Solomons political parties

This post records all of the parties contesting the 2010 elections in Solomon Islands. I have previously posted on the proliferation of new political parties on 15 February, 13 March and 17 April. Rather than posting more updates, I will keep updating this post at least until election day (August 4). I will make a note of the date of when the post was most recently updated.

There are at least 19 parties that I’m aware of contesting the 2010 election, which is almost certainly a record. In a 2006 article, political analyst Sam Alasia (who is also a candidate in this election), reported that 16 parties contested the 2006 elections, up from 10 and 9 in the previous two elections (Alasia 2006, “Rainbows across the mountains: the first post-RAMSI general election, p.122).

Of the 19 parties, 12 have been established in the last six months. As with previous elections, it seems likely that several will not achieve any parliamentary representation and will dissolve shortly after August 4. In some cases, it seems that parties are established to promote a single candidacy, or to give extra profile to a small number of candidates.

Possible Prime Ministerial candidates

The main purpose of several of the larger parties seems to be to give profile to potential prime ministerial candidates, and also to help those candidates build a solid bloc of votes to help in the negotiations following an election. Several parties have already flagged their intentions to seek to lead the next government. Here is my list of possible prime ministerial candidates, assuming that they first win election to parliament:

  • Manasseh Sogavare (OUR Party)
  • Fred Fono (People’s Congress Party)
  • Danny Philip (Rural Development Party, RDP-SI)
  • Gordon Darcy Lilo (SI Party for Rural Advancement, SIPRA)
  • Possibly Matthew Wale or Steve Abana from the Democratic Party (SIDP)
  • Possibly Allan Kemakeza from the People’s Alliance Party (PAP)

Political Parties – the list

  1. People’s Alliance Party (PAP), est. 1979, led by James Mekab (president) and Allan Kemakeza (party spokesperson)
  2. Association of Independent Members (AIM), est. c.2001, Snyder Rini, Tommy Chan (president)
  3. Ownership, Unity and Responsibility (OUR) party, founded in 2010 by former Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare with 7-8 other outgoing MPs
  4. Solomon Islands Democratic Party (SIDP), est. 2006, led by Matthew Wale and Steve Abana
  5. Solomon Islands Party for Rural Advancement (SIPRA), est. 2006, led by Gordon Darcy Lilo and Job Dudley Tausinga
  6. Reform and Democratic Party of Solomon Islands (RDP-SI), founded in 2010 by former MP and minister Danny Philip
  7. Liberal Party, est. 1988, led by Dr Derek Sikua, or possibly Richard Ulufa’alu (leadership in dispute)
  8. Nasnol Pati, est. c.1997, led by Francis Billy Hilly
  9. Solomon Islands People’s Congress Party, founded in 2010 by outgoing Deputy PM, Fred Fono.
  10. Rural and Urban Political Party (RUPP), co-founded in 2010 by outgoing MPs Samuel Manetoali (party president) and Trevor Olavae
  11. People’s Federation
    Party (PFP), founded in 2010 by former foreign affairs officer Rudolf Henry Dorah (secretary general) and outgoing MP Clay Forau Soalaoi (chair)
  12. Solomon Islands United Party (SIUP), now led by interim president Joel Konofilia
  13. Direct Development Party, founded in 2010 by former SICHE Director, Dick Ha’amori, and journalist and former MP, Alfred Sasako
  14. New Nations Solomon Islands Party (NNSIP), founded in 2010 by businessman Belani Tekulu
  15. Rural Congress People’s Party, founded in 2010 by Rev. Milton Talasasa
  16. Autonomous Solomon Islanders Party (ASIP), co-founded in 2010 by former politicians Jackson Sunaone and Denis Lulei
  17. Twelve Pillars to Peace and Prosperity Party (TP4), founded in 2010 by Delmah Nori (interim president)
  18. People’s Power Action Party, founded in 2010 by Robert Wales Feratelia, former Honiara Lord Mayor
  19. Christian Progressive Party (CPP)

Details on each party are set out below …

1. People’s Alliance Party (PAP)

The People’s Alliance Party (PAP) is Solomons’ oldest surviving party. It was formed in 1979 through the merger of the Rural Alliance Party (RAP, led by David Kausimae, 1977-79) and the People’s Progressive Party (PPP, led by Solomon Mamaloni, 1973-79). The PAP has been part of at least six governments and it led three of those: 1981-84 (Mamaloni), 1989-90 (Mamaloni), 1993-94 (Billy Hilly), 200001 (Sogavare), 2001-06 (Kemakeza) and 2007-10 (Sikua). The current President of the PAP is James Mekab whilst Allan Kemakeza is the party spokesperson. Other outgoing parliamentary members include Augustine Taneko, Clement Kengava and Johnson Koli (a fourth member, Fred Fono, has now established the People’s Congress Party).

During the campaign, the PAP announced that they would reduce the number of Ministries and slash the public sector payroll by 20% over four years in order to pay for decentralisation and rural development. Sir Allan said PAP plans to formulate nine provincial Development Councils through which the Rural Constituency Development Funding will be channeled (Solomon Star, 28 June). The Councils would comprise National MPs from the province, members of the Provincial Executive and representatives of chiefs, women and youth groups (Solomon Star, 12 May, Island Sun, 29 April, Solomon Times, 29 April, OneTV, 27 April)

2. Association of Independent Members of Parliament (AIM)

AIM was established in the early 2000s by businessman, owner of Honiara Hotel and former MP, Tommy Chan (president). It was the junior coalition partner in the Kemakeza government (2001-06), was the major party in the illfated Rini government whose establishment preceded the April 2006 riots and was a member of the CNURA coalition (2007-10). Snyder Rini is AIM’s parliamentary leader and outgoing MP Seth Gukuna is also a member. Late Edward Huni’ehu was also a member, along with retiring MP Laurie Chan. A large number of other MPs have been associated with AIM.

3. Ownership, Unity and Responsibility (OUR) Party

Co-founded by former Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare and 7-8 other MPs from the previous Grand Coalition for Change Government (GCCG). This is at least the third party founded by Mr Sogavare following the People’s Progressive Party (established prior to the 2001 election) and the Social Credit (SoCred) Party (established prior to the 2006 election). Other founding MPs include: Patteson Oti, Bernard Ghiro, Japhet Waipora, Peter Shanel, Isaac Inoke and Francis Zama.

OUR party has run an unprecedented election campaign, conducting launches in most if not all provinces. This has been accompanied by a slew of policy announcements. They have frequently committed to decentralize economic development and reintroduce the ‘bottom-up development strategy’ previously pursued by the GCCG-Sogavare government. The party has expressed concern about the influence of aid donors and the Regional Assistance Mission (RNZI, 14 June).  However, Mr Sogavare also said that accusations that his party is anti-aid donor and anti-RAMSI are misconceptions of its genuine concerns about aid money and the intervention mission (Solomon Times, 14 June; Solomon Star, 15 June). See further summaries of OUR party policies in earlier posts in March and June.

OUR party has 37 candidates and strong representation in most provinces, with 7 in the eastern provinces (Temotu and Makira), 7 in Guadalcanal and 9 in Malaita. It is less well-represented in Western province, with 4 candidates, including one –Queensland Olega – who is also claimed by the RDP-SI. The full list is available at Derick Manu’ari’s blog

4. Solomon Islands Democratic Party (SIDP)

The Solomon Islands Democratic Party was established in 2006 by accountant Matthew Wale and lawyers Gabriel Suri and John Keniapisia (secretary general). Its original MPs included Sam Iduri, Stanley Sofu and David Dei Pacha but it expanded in government and its candidates now include 10 incumbents. The others are: Steve Abana, Peter Tom, Daniel Enele Kwanairara, Manasseh Maelanga, Severino Nuaiasi, Walter Folotalu and Matthew Wale.

Party leader Abana launched the SIDP campaign by promoting its record as a member of the CNURA-Sikua government. In particular, he took credit for pushing the Political Party Reform Bill, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and proposals for an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). He also took responsibility for the downfall of the GCCG-Sogavare government (Solomon Star, 8 June). Other policy announcements include a commitments to: improve health care (Solomon Star, 5 July), improve communications through further deregulation and an undersea cable (Solomon Star, 5 July), introduce legislation that would remove control of RCDF from MPs (Solomon Star, 9 June), change the Gaming and Lotteries Act to reduce the social harm caused by casinos (RNZI, 23 June),

The SIDP has very strong Malaitan representation. It published a list of 21 candidates, and of these, 12 are from Malaita. There are no SIDP candidates in Western Province and just 2 in Guadalcanal.  The full list is available at Derick Manu’ari’s blog.

5. Solomon Islands Party for Rural Advancement (SIPRA)

SIPRA was established in 2006 by Gordon Darcy Lilo and Job Dudley Tausinga (president). Outgoing parliamentary members include: Samuel Manetoali, Toswell Kaua and Patrick Vahoe. Tausinga launched its campaign on 17 June and announced that the party believed in development from the bottom upwards. He also stated that his party knows the risk associated with trade imbalances that have continued to mark the economic position of the country. (Solomon Times, 17 June)

SIPRA published a list of 22 candidates, although I think only 20 have actually nominated for the election. Its strongest representation is in Western Province (5). It also has 4 in Guadalcanal, 4 in the eastern provinces (Temotu and Makira) but only 3 in Malaita. The full list is available at Derick Manu’ari’s blog.

6. Reform and Democratic Party of Solomon Islands (RDP-SI)

The RDP-SI was founded in April 2010 by former MP and Minister, Danny Philip. Philip has already had a long political career. He served four terms for South New Georgia/Rendova/Tetepari from 1984 until 2001, putting him amongst the longest-serving MPs since independence. During his tenure in parliament, he held a number of senior positions including: Minister for Forests and Natural Resources (c.1998, Alebua government), Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs (c.1989-90, Mamaloni government), Deputy Prime Minister (c.1994-96, Mamaloni government) and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (2000-01, Sogavare government). He was still a formidable candidate in the 2006 election, where he ran a close second to Francis Zama (40% to 38%).

The RDP-SI has strong Western and Eastern representation. It published a list of 31 candidates, although I think only 28 have actually nominated for the election and of these, 7 are from Western Province and 7 are from the eastern provinces (Makira and Temotu). There are 5 contestants from Guadalcanal but only 3 from Malaita. The full list is available at Derick Manu’ari’s blog.

7. Liberal Party

The Liberal Party was founded by the late Bart Ulufa’alu in 1988 after he split with his fellow unionist, Joses Tuhanuku. Current members of the Liberal Party include outgoing Prime Minister Derek Sikua and outgoing Ministers Japhet Waipora and Milner Tozaka. The party’s General Secretary is businessman and former MP, Yukio (Y.) Sato.

In June, a strange dispute emerged for control of the party. On 10 June, Ulufa’alu’s son, Richard Ulufa’alu, rejected claims that Sikua was the party’s leader. He claimed that, in fact, the party had been re-launched in May and a new executive had been appointed, with him as leader and president. Thus, it appears that there are effectively two parties fighting over which has the right to the name of the Liberal Party. Further details, with interviews with both Ulufa’alu and Y. Sato, are available a OneTV report from 21 June. Earlier in June, Ulufa’alu stated that that he would challenge Matthew Wale in his father’s former seat of Aoke Langa Langa. His ambition is to promote his father’s ‘Bottom Up Approach’ to development.

8. Nasnol Pati

The Nasnol Pati (or National Party) of Solomon Islands was established in 1990s. It claimed five members in the outgoing parliament however Oti is now a member of OUR party and Boseto has retired. The remainder are Francis Billy Hilly, Martin Magga and Nollen Leni.

9. Solomon Islands People’s Congress Party

The People’s Congress Party was founded in April 2010 by outgoing Deputy PM and Minister for Rural Development and Indigenous Affairs, Fred Fono. Fono stated that ‘the focus of that party is to make reforms in the constituency development funding’. Specifically, his plan is to introduce legislation so that RCDF funds are administered by local constituency congresses, not MPs. (See reports from Radio Australia and Solomon Times.) Party launch (OneTV, 21 June)

10. Solomon Islands United Party (SIUP)

The United Party is one of the country’s eldest. It was established by Peter Kenilorea in 1980, on the eve of the national election 30 years ago. It was the leading party in government in 1980-81 (Kenilorea), 1984-86 (Kenilorea) and 1986-89 (Alebua). It was also a coalition partner in the 1993-94 Billy Hilly government. My impression is that it has remained active since then (eg, by fielding candidates in each subsequent election) and it may have been a coalition partner in later governments. Nonetheless, its influence has certainly waned in recent elections, to the extent that it had no candidates elected in 2006 (and possibly none in 2001 either).

The party seems to have taken a new turn at this election. It held its Honiara launch in late June, during which the interim president, Joel Konofilia, proposed that nine Ministries be abolished and replaced with dedicated ministries for each of the provinces. (Island Sun, 28 June(a)) At the same time, Konofilia also committed to restrictions on land ownership by foreigners, with particular reference to Asians. (Island Sun, 28 June(b)).  At a subsequent launch in North Malaita, Konofilia stated that Solomons had been under a curse for the last 32 years because it had ‘voted against Israel’ and made an apology on behalf of the United Party for its past role in this (Solomon Star, 12 July).

11. Rural and Urban Political Party

The Rural and Urban Political Party was launched in June 2010 by outgoing Lands Minister, Samuel Manetoali (party president), and outgoing MP for South Vella La Vella, Trevor Olavae. The party aims to promote rural development through the creation of ‘economic growth centres’ that are equipped with roads, airfields, wharves, storage facilities, utilities and a review of taxation arrangements (Solomon Times, 14 June, see also Island Sun, 9 June).

12. People’s Federation Party (PFP)

The People’s Federation Party was founded in March 2010 by former foreign affairs officer Rudolf Henry Dorah (secretary general). The party chair is Clay Forau Soalaoi, the outgoing MP for Temotu Vatud and caretaker Health Minister.

The motto of the People’s Federaration Party is ‘trade not aid’. It says that it wants to address five ‘crises’ facing Solomons management of ongoing land disputes in poor rural areas, political corruption, an inadequate banking sector, the threat of climate change and ‘a leadership crisis’ (Australia Network News, 9 April, Solomon Star, 12/03/10, SolomonTimes, 6 April, OneTV, 5 April)

13. Direct Development Party

The Direct Development Party was launched in May 2010 by Dick Ha’amori (former SICHE Director) and Alfred Sasako (veteran journalist, former Minister and MP for East Kwaio, 1997-2006). Earlier in May, Ha’amori was dismissed as Director by the SICHE Council following allegations of incompetence and poor performance. (Ha’amori rejected the allegations.) Ha’amori contested the seat of West Makira in 2006, achieving 7.7% of the vote.

At its launch, the party announced its plans to turn SICHE into a university. The party also committed to assist workers in the informal sector to make voluntary contributions to NPF but was subsequently criticised by NPF CEO and General Manager, Tony Makabo, who said that the statements that failed to understand that informal sector workers are already entitled to make such contributions.

14. New Nations Solomon Islands Party (NNSIP)

The New Nations Solomon Islands Party was launched in May 2010 by businessman, Belani Tekulu. Tekulu and his wife Dalcy have worked as cocoa exporters and owners of Red Mansion Comfort Inn. He was also head of the Solomon Islands Indigenous Business Association around 2005-06 (and may still be).

According to reports, its priorities included law and order, anti-corruption, infrastructure, land, education and health (OneTV, and Solomon Star, 25 May and Island Sun, 25 May).

15. Autonomous Solomon Islanders Party

The Autonomous Solomon Islanders Party was founded in January 2010 (Solomon Star, 25 January, and 6 February, Island Sun, 20 April). According to various reports, the party’s leadership group includes three former politicians (Jackson Sunaone, Denis Lulei and Basil Manelegua), a former premier of Makira Province (Steven Piringisau) and two others – Elijah Owa and Robert Haikiu. Sunaone was briefly the member for West Makira in 2000-01. He was elected at a by-election following the death of his brother, and former Prime Minister, Solomon Mamaloni.  Lulei is an Isabel Chief and served three terms of parliament, as member for West Isabel (1980-89) and then for Maringe-Kokota (1993-97). Basil Manelegua is a former member for Gao-Bugotu (2001-06) and minister in the Kemakeza government.

In a letter to the Solomon Star (11 February), the party’s Public Relations Officer Robert Haikiu explained the party’s position on resource allocation (all resources provided by donors and government, including RCDF etc, must be farreaching) and governance (there is too much red tape involved in the procedures, systems, policies and laws used to govern and administer services in Solomon Islands).

16. People’s Power Action Party

The People’s Power Action Party was founded in early 2010 by Robert Wales Feratelia (Solomon Star, 12 February, OneTV, 11 February). Feratelia was previously Honiara Lord Mayor and president of the SI Planned Parenthood Association. He unsuccessfully contested the seat of East Honiara in the 2006 election, coming 11th out of 20 candidates with 2.2% of the vote. He was previously the subject of charges (later dropped) relating to the April riots in 2006 but he has denied any involvement in the burning and looting of Chinatown.

The party says it stands for people in the informal sector, the underprivileged and the oppressed and warned that the upcoming election is going to be a great battle between ‘foreign elements’ and Solomon Islands. The party has announced plans to establish a ‘Micro-finance Bank for Solomon Islands’ because ‘currently the banking sector has placed a stigma on the poor, excluding their access to banking resources’ (Solomon Star, 11/02/10). In an interview with OneTV (21 May), Feratelia indicated that his party would support Sogavare in a vote for Prime Minister.

17. Rural Congress People’s Party

The Rural Congress People’s Party was founded in April 2010 by Rev. Milton Talasasa. The party’s launch was held in Vona Vona, Western Province. Talasasa is a member of the Uniting Church and was previously a church human resource officer (Solomon Star, 16 April). In May 2008, he graduated from the University of Auckland with a Masters degree (his second); his thesis focused on the history of the Methodist Mission in Solomon Islands (Nusa Zonga Light, Vol 1, Issue 6, Jan-Jun 2008).

18. Twelve Pillars to Peace and Prosperity Party (TP4)

The Twelve Pillars to Peace and Prosperity Party (TP4) was founded in May 2010 by Delma Nori (interim president). (See Solomon Star, 31 May and RNZI, 2 June.) It has been billed as a women’s political party and its main objective is to promote greater representation in Parliament of women and women’s issues (including employment, food security, family and climate change). However, membership is not restricted to women only. The Twelve Pillars are: 1. a strong economy, 2. fair education with gender balance, 3. state security, 4. healthy living, 5. environment and full security infrastructure, 6. a strong finance, 7. good governance, 8. lands, 9. business and foreign investors, 10. work and employment, 11. family and 12. religion (see interview with Nori on Radio Australia, 8 June). Nori also says that the party wants to cut the size of government and decentralise funding so rural areas will have better services.

Nori contested the seat of Central Honiara in the 2006 election, coming 5th out of 13 candidates with 8.3% of the vote. Nori’s husband is the former MP, Minister and MEF spokesperson, Andrew Nori. He was member for West ‘Are ‘Are from 1985-97 and is currently an active member and likely candidate for the PAP.

Note: Nori had previously announced that her party would be called the Peace, Oneness and Prosperity Party (Solomon Times, 20 January)

19. Christian Progressive Party

The Christian Progressive Party was founded in June 2010. According to a report in the Island Sun, 16 June, the CPP is committed to Christian moral values. The party’s platform reportedly includes a focus on land development, increased trade and investment, sustainable development and poverty alleviation, improved food production systems and a stronger tourism sector.

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