Candidates for Solomon Islands PM announced amid ‘political turbulence’

Candidates for Solomon Islands top job ... Central Honiara MP Rick Houenipwela (left) and Small Malaita MP John Moffat Fugui. Image: Solomon Star News

Amid continued “political turbulence” in the Solomon Islands, candidates for the position of prime minister have been announced, the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation reports.

MP for Central Honiara John Moffat Fugui will go head-to-head with Small Malaita MP Rick Houenipwela for the position on Wednesday morning.

Solomon Star News reports Fugui and Houenipwela were the only two candidates, nominated by the Honiara Hotel camp (opposition) and Heritage Park Hotel camp (caretaker government) respectively.

SIBC reports Houenipwela is considered the better candidate by the public.

In government for seven years, Houenipwela’s top priorities if elected are political and fiscal stability.

He told Solomon Star News these were the fundamental reasons the Democratic Alliance Party switched from the opposition to the caretaker government.

Houenipwela also told SIBC the DAP made the move in an effort to form a new coalition which would provide the nation with desperately needed political stability.

‘Never accepted’ money
“Political and fiscal stability underpin the general stability of any nation and these were the fundamental reasons for switching sides.

“We did not join the caretaker government in search of positions or in search of money. We were never offered any money because everyone in Parliament knows that when we were offered money, we never accepted them,” Houenipwela said.

Houenipwela’s DAP walked away from the opposition due to a lack of consultation over a proposed cabinet line-up, he said.

The DAP’s move comes amidst a three week period which has been marked by changed allegiances and moves to consolidate power.

Solomon Star News reports the Heritage Park Hotel camp is now comprised of the Kadere Party, People’s Alliance Party, People’s First Party and the DAP, bringing their numbers up from 23 to 30.

Houenipwela confirmed the caretaker government coalition partners consist of the two political parties that formerly made up the opposition and three political parties of the former Sogavare-led Democratic Coalition for Change Government (DCCG).

The opposition’s numbers have dwindled to 20 MPs, reports Solomon Fresh Beat Online.

Fugui announces policies
Opposition candidate for prime minister, Fugui, told SIBC the value leaders placed on their duty to the nation was more important than setting political and fiscal stability as priorities, as good governance and a stable economy result from leaders valuing their role.

Fugui’s policies included greater support of rural people and beefing up the country’s foreign reserves, SIBC reports.

The group which nominated Houenipwela included former Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, who was ousted last week following a 27 to 23 no-confidence vote, after initially refusing to resign.

During the nine hour debate in parliament, Sogavare defended his strong stance on West Papua, following criticism from Fugui, Solomon Star News reports.

Fugui said Sogavare should withdraw support of the Indonesian-ruled region and not waste the Solomon Islands time, as Papua New Guinea had not been advocating for West Papua.

Sogavare hit-back in his rebuttal and said the government’s position must be consistent with its position on New Caledonia’s independence, French Polynesia’s decolonisation agenda and Taiwan’s bid for United Nations membership.

He added the Solomon Islands must stand beside its Melanesian brothers and sisters, as they did not enjoy the same basic rights.

Sogavare survived a no-confidence motion in October 2006 despite deteriorating relations with Australia, but did not survive a vote of no-confidence in December 2007.

The election of Houenipwela or Fugui to the top post of prime minister takes place on Wednesday, November 15 at 9.30am.

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