Manasseh Sogavare elected Solomon Islands PM for fourth time

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Prime Minister-elect Manasseh Sogavare ... strong advocate for decentralisation of development. Image: SIBC

By RNZ News

Manasseh Sogavare has been voted in as the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands for the fourth time, polling 34 votes over his rival Matthew Wale in the 50-seat Parliament.

This will be Sogavare’s fourth prime ministership, his previous stints being in 2000, 2006 and most recently in 2014.

Two out of his last three terms as Prime Minister were cut short by no-confidence motions.

READ MORE: ‘We won’t be intimidated over West Papua’ –  Sogavare

Sogavare has served consecutive terms as the MP for North East since he was first elected in 1997 he has held various ministerial roles over the years including in finance and commerce.

He has a background in economics and throughout his career has advocated for the decentralisation of development in the Solomon Islands.

-Partners-

He has also been an vocal supporter of West Papua, calling on the UN to support self-determination for the annexed state.

Sogavare … a vocal supporter of West Papua, calling on the UN to support self-determination for the Indonesian-annexed state. Image: bennywenda.org

He was nominated for the Prime Minister’s post by the Democratic Coalition for Advancement a group of four political parties made up mostly of MPs from the last government, bolstered by newly elected independents.

Controversy
The election of the Prime Minister today was not without controversy as a court injunction was delivered to Parliament just before the election began, calling for the process to be postponed.

No reason was given for the injunction but it is believed to have been applied for by the rival candidate Matthew Wale and his coalition, who in the lead up to the vote raised questions about the eligibility of the Prime Minister-elect Manasseh Sogavare to contest for the top job.

However, Governor-General Sir Frank Kabui chose to go ahead with the election despite the court order.

His staff had explained that his decision to go ahead was based on the constitution of the Solomon Islands which they said granted the Governor-General immunity from the courts when conducting the election of the Prime Minister.

In protest of the Governor-General’s decision to continue, Wale and the MPs supporting his candidacy walked out of the Parliament chamber refusing to participate in the vote.

In the end, only 35 ballots were cast, 34 were in favour of Sogavare, one ballot was incorrectly marked.

In total 15 MPs abstained from voting.

Manasseh Sogavare was due to be sworn in as Prime Minister this afternoon at Government House.

This article is republished under the Pacific Media Centre’s content partnership with Radio New Zealand.

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