By-elections proposed for end of 2020, early 2021: PM

THE proposed dates for the by-elections are scheduled for the end of this year and early 2021.

This is for the Central Honiara Constituency, North East Guadalcanal and South Choiseul constituencies.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare in his nation-wide address this afternoon said the proposed dates are in late November, or early December 2020.

However, the Prime Minister said this will also depend on the current financial situation and that the Home Affairs ministry will need to work closely with the Ministry of finance & Treasury.

Prime Minister Sogavare said dates for polling; examining draft electoral timelines needs to be finalized before formal dates are announced.

“In terms of the by-election for South Choiseul constituency, the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission has proposed a date in early 2021, as it will be covered by the 2021 approved budget,” he said.

The Prime Minister said the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission has been given the go ahead by the Attorney General Chambers, to proceed with the by-elections for the three constituencies although, there is a State of Public Emergency currently enforced in the country.

“The Government through the Ministry of Home Affairs was very cautious in conducting the by-elections within the SOPE period because of the concern that the powers provided in the SOPE Regulations could jeopardize the integrity in the conduct of the by-election. However, the Attorney General Chambers has alleviated this concern by assuring the Chief Electoral Officer that the powers provided in the Regulation will not supersede any directive under the Electoral Act for the conduct of a credible, free and fair election,” he said.

Prime Minister Sogavare said it is also responsible and fair that a by-election is conducted as soon as possible as thousands of people in these respective constituencies have raised their concerns regarding their voice in Parliament.

“Therefore, the Ministry of Home Affairs are finalising its review of their processes in conducting the elections. The purpose of the review is to identify where in the election process a reform can be made to comply with the COVID-19 protective measures,” he said. The Prime Minister said the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Health will come up with procedures on compliance measures to protect staff and voters during the by-elections.