2010 election update

June 29, 2010

Update (25/07/10): my latest election update is available here.

On 22 June, the Governor General, Frank Kabui, officially announced that the election will be held on Wednesday, 4 August. Candidates have two weeks (until 7 July) to nominate for the election.

In the meantime, campaigning has begun in earnest, with policy announcements on a range of issues. Here are summaries and links to announcements made in recent weeks. (I previously posted on various campaign manifestos and policy announcements back in March.)

Here’s a list of the range of topics covered in the announcements:

  • Decentralisation, rural development & RCDF
  • Taiwan & China
  • RAMSI and aid donors
  • Democratic Party (SIDP) – its record & party list
  • PAP’s priorities
  • Others – gambling, tourism & SEZs
  • Sri Ramon Quitales – RIP

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Contest for Small Malaita

May 26, 2010

Rick Hou

It looks like the seat of Small Malaita will be hotly contested, with at least three prominent candidates to watch.

In mid-May, the Solomon Star reported that highly-regarded former head of the Central Bank, Rick Houwenipela (generally shortened to Rick Hou) has cut short his contract with the World Bank to contest the seat.

The head of the newly established People’s Federation Party and former foreign affairs official, Rudolf Henry Dorah, has also said that he has his eye on Small Malaita.

They will be challenging the incumbent MP and outgoing Minister for Foreign Affairs, William Haomae, who has held the seat in 1993-97, 1997-2001 and 2006-2010.

William Haomae

In 2006, Haomae faced 10 other contenders and eventually won with just over 20% of the vote (his nearest rival, Matthew Fakaia, won 17%). In 2001, however, both Haomae (2nd, 1124 votes or 17%) and Fakaia (3rd, 719 votes or 11%) were defeated by businessman Alex Bartlett (1941 votes, or 29%).

Around the time of his election, in the midst of the Tensions, Bartlett was also one of the leaders of the Malaitan Eagle Force (MEF). In September 2004 he was charged by police (Moore 2004, p.214) and subsequently jailed; the seat then remained vacant until the following election. Before this occurred, Bartlett managed to hold three different portfolios. Initially he was Minister for Foreign Affairs but ‘became something of  a liability … when the United States refused to issue him a transit visa because the MEF was on a list of terrorist organisations’ (Moore 2004, p.179). Consequently, in 2003 he was shifted into Tourism and Aviation but by 2004, he had moved again, to Agriculture and Fisheries. Later, Bartlett was the subject of charges (later dropped) relating to the April riots in 2006.

Bartlett and Haomae have a long history – back in 1989, Haomae lodged the sole petition challenging Barlett’s victory in that election. His petition, like so many thereafter, was unsuccessful. Later in that term of parliament, Bartlett was embroiled in controversy when, in 1992, he and Finance Minister Christopher Columbus Abe purported to represent the Central Bank when they negotiated and signed a loan document for US$250 million without the Bank’s knowledge (Moore 2004, p.55).

Reference: Moore, C (2004) Happy Isles in Crisis, Asia Pacific Press

The Party party – update

May 26, 2010

With the news today that the election will be held on Wednesday, 4 August, this seems a good time to update my tally of political parties. I am aware of 11 new parties, with a couple more in the wings and the possibility that up to six existing parties may also re-contest.

I have previously posted on the proliferation of new political parties on 15 February, 13 March and 17 April. Since my last post:

  • The Direct Development Party was launched by Dick Ha’amori (who was, until his recent dismissal, the Director of SICHE). The party, which counts veteran journalist and former MP and Minister Alfred Sasako in its ranks, has since announced its plans to turn SICHE into a university but has also been criticised by Tony Makabo (NPF CEO and General Manager) for failing to understand that workers in the informal sector are already entitled to make voluntary contributions to NPF.
  • The New Nations Solomon Islands Party was launched by Belani Tekulu (a businessman and one-time head of the Solomon Islands Indigenous Business Association). According to the OneTV report, its priorities included law and order, anti-corruption, infrastructure, land, education and health.
Here is my latest tally …

David Sitai, MP for East Makira

May 24, 2010

David Sitai

On 23 April, long-serving parliamentarian, David Sitai, announced that he will retire from politics at the end of the current term of parliament (SIBC, 23/04/10, subscribers only). When he steps down, Sitai will have served as the member for East Makira for six consecutive terms (from 1984-2010), making him one of the longest-serving MPs in Solomons’ political history, alongside Solomon Mamaloni, Francis Billy Hilly and Job Duddley Tausinga.

This post looks at Sitai’s achievements in parliament and as a Minister, reviews his background prior to entering politics and comments on his recent electoral performance. The post concludes with a survey of possible contenders for the seat of East Makira.

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The Billy Hilly govt (1993-94)

May 23, 2010

This post is the continuation of a profile of Francis Billy Hilly (the current Finance Minister and former Prime Minister). In my earlier post, I summarised his early political career from 1976-84 and the nine subsequent years he spent away from national politics.

This post discusses his return to parliament in the 1993 election, his subsequent appointment as Prime Minister, the policies his government pursued and finally the constitutional crisis in October 1994 that preceded Billy Hilly’s downfall.

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Finance Ministers of Solomon Islands

May 20, 2010

Snyder Rini, Finance Minister 2001-02, 2002-03 & 2007-10

With the recent dismissal of Snyder Rini as Finance Minister and his replacement by Francis Billy Hilly, I thought it would be interesting to try to list the Finance Ministers of Solomons.

After a bit of digging, I have found at least 23 appointments as Finance Minister from Wille Betu’s appointment in 1975 up until Billy Hilly’s appointment in 2010 – see the full list below.

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Election date – waiting, waiting …

May 15, 2010

The date for the 2010 Solomon Islands election has been decided and a recommendation sent to the Governor General, according to the Electoral Commissioner, Polycarp Haununu (Sololomon Star, 13/05/10, Island Sun, 12/05/10). However, the date won’t be announced until the Governor General returns from Taiwan on the 19th.

Mr Haununu has given us some clues, however. He states that the date is NOT the 29th of July as reported by Alfred Sasako, nor is it any of the other three dates that Sasako mentioned. (In an earlier post, I also claimed that voting would be held on 29 July so, based on the latest reports, I stand ready to humble pie …)

Election petitions

May 15, 2010

This post looks at election petitions that have been lodged by losing candidates following a general election or, occasionally, a by-election. I ran a search on ‘election petitions’ on the Pacific Islands Legal Information Institute (PacLII) database for Solomon Islands and found court decisions for 31 petitions of national elections. I’m not certain that I’ve got a complete set but it is at least an interesting sample, available as a Word doc here.

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By-election data – updated

May 15, 2010

In an earlier post, I provided a list of all the by-elections and parliamentary vacancies in Solomons between 1973 and 2010. The list was only to the best of my knowledge at the time and I have since updated it slightly, so I have posted revised data in a Word doc here.

In summary (to the best of my knowledge):

  • There have been 31 parliamentary vacancies since 1973 (26 since independence).
  • Of these vacancies, 14 (45%) have occurred in the last two terms of parliament.
  • The main causes of vacancies are death (8), resignation (8), jail (6) and election petition (3).
  • These vacancies have resulted in 26 by-elections since 1973 (21 since independence). In the remaining cases, the seat has remained vacant until the following election.

Profile – Francis Billy Hilly

May 3, 2010

Francis Billy Hilly

In the lead-up to the election, I thought it would be interesting to write profiles for some prominent MPs or candidates. I’ve decided to start with a former Prime Minister and the newly appointed Minister for Finance, Francis Billy Hilly. He’s had a long career, so I’ve split write-up into two posts. This first post covers his early political career and along the way, discusses the ‘Western breakaway movement of the late 1970s and also the downfall of the Kenilorea government in 1981.

Note: the second post, recounting Billy Hilly’s reign as PM, is now available here.

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Election date: (NOT) 29 July

April 27, 2010

Update (26/05/2010): the Solomon Star reports that PM Sikua told a group of university students in PNG that the election will be held on Wednesday, 4 August. In so doing, I suspect he has accidentally pre-empted the Governor General, who would ordinarily announce the date. Clearly my previous post (below) was incorrect but I’m pretty sure this is because the government changed its mind sometime in the last few weeks.

Original post: The 8th national election in Solomon Islands since independence will be held on Thursday 29 July, according to a report by Alfred Sasako in Monday’s Solomon Star and also according to separate, well-placed gossip gathered by yours truly in Port Moresby. (Dammit, if Sasako hadn’t got there first, I could’ve had my first scoop!)

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2010 election update

April 17, 2010

Fred Fono

Update (25/07/10): my latest election update is available here.

It’s about time for an update on the upcoming election. There have been a few interesting developments including the CNURA coalition agreement, Fred Fono’s new political party and the announcement of two other new parties.

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The Party party

April 17, 2010

Update (25/07/10): I now have a complete list of parties contesting the 2010 election here.

I have been trying to keep track of the proliferation of new political parties (see previous posts here and here). My current tally is that nine new parties have been established and up to six existing parties are likely to re-contest.

This suggests that, once again, there is strong interest in the upcoming election, even before the election date is announced. And the true number of parties may be even higher. A couple of weeks ago, Radio Australia reported that 11 new parties have declared their intention to run in the upcoming elections.

Here is my latest tally …

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Extra seats? Parliament undecided

April 13, 2010

Update (15/04/10): Parliament is undecided no more. Last night, it voted 25-15 in support of a motion to reject the report of the Constitutional Boundaries Commission. Apparently this means that the report’s recommendation will not be voted on at all. Some controversy arose from the decision of the Speaker, Sir Peter Kenilorea, to allow the motion to be moved without the usual three days notice. Kenilorea said he allowed the motion without notice because it was a matter of ‘national urgency’. See reports in the Solomon Star and Solomon Times for more details.


I previously posted (here and here) on the proposal by the Constituency Boundaries Commission (CBC) to increase the number of seats in Parliament from 50 to 67. A recent report from the Solomon Star (9/04/10) suggests that the vote is still in the balance, largely due to concerns regarding the possible costs involved.

In parliamentary debate today, government ministers Steve Abana and Seth Gukuna both spoke against the proposal (One TV, 13/04/10) however another senior and long-serving member of the government, Job Tausinga, has indicated his support (Solomon Star, 13/04/10).

Presumably, we will know the result soon …

Update (14/04/10): OneTV has quoted Opposition Leader Manasseh Sogavare expressing his opposition to the proposed increase in seats whilst the Solomon Star reports that Chiefs from Central Guadalcanal have added their opposition to the debate. Their objection does not relate to the costs involved; rather, they are concerned about the proposal to split the electorate of Central Guadalcanal into two (a smaller Central Guadalcanal and a new North Guadalcanal).

RIP – Edward Huni’ehu (1956-2010)

April 13, 2010

Edward Huni'ehu

According to a report from OneTV, Hon. Edward Justus Huni’ehu, passed away recently after an extended period of ill health.

Huni’ehu was first elected as the member for East ‘Are ‘Are in a by-election in 1992 following the resignation of Peter Kenilorea. He was re-elected at the 1993 election, chose not to contest in 1997 and then won again in 2001 and 2006. In all, he served as a member of parliament for over 13 years and was thus one of the longest-serving members since independence.

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Women in Solomons politics

April 10, 2010

Earlier today I posted on ‘Being the First: Storis Blong Oloketa Meri Lo Solomon Aelan‘, which tells the stories of 14 trail-blazing women who reached senior positions in the Solomons Islands parliament and public service.

I thought I could also make a small contribution by discussing the participation of women in Solomons politics. All of the data cited below (and some additional tables) are available here.

Update (25/07/10): I have posted a list of women contesting the 2010 election here.

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Being the First: pioneering Solomons women

April 10, 2010

Being the First

I recently received my copy of ‘Being the First: Storis Blong Oloketa Meri Lo Solomon Aelan‘, which tells the stories of 14 trail-blazing women who reached senior positions in the Solomons Islands public service and parliament.

It’s an interesting read and a welcome reminder that, despite the considerable barriers to women’s equal participation in public life in Solomons, there is a small but growing number of women leaders who will hopefully serve as role models for those to come.

In this post, I’ve just picked out a few details from the book that I thought were interesting. I’ve also collated a few facts about Lily Ogatina Poznanski who was omitted from the book but also deserves recognition.

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Port Moresby – bush walking & other attractions

March 30, 2010

I’ve been enjoying the Sunday bush walks organised by the fortnightly Port Moresby bush walking club so I thought I’d give a quick plug for a blog created by a former member – Steve Bennett – that includes photos and descriptions of his many walks. If you’ve been on some of the bush walks, or a thinking about joining, I think you’ll enjoy Steve’s blog. I did.

While I’m at it, how about a general plug for my current home town? Admittedly Port Moresby isn’t the easiest place to live but it does have a number of attractions. In the town itself these include …

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Sols Parliament on OneTV

March 30, 2010

I have just discovered that One Television has a daily summary of parliamentary debate available for viewing on its web site – great stuff!

Each daily segment is about 8 minutes long and is presented by one of Sols’ leading young journos, Evans Wasuka (he also writes some good stuff in the Islands Business magazine). So far, this service  seems to be a much more regular and reliable update on what’s happening in parliament than what’s available in the online newspaper services.

Thanks OneTV!

East Honiara – Poll position

March 20, 2010

The Solomon Star has published results of polling for the seat of East Honiara that found that Auditor General Edward Ronia was the preferred candidate, followed by Douglas Ete (CEO of the National Referral Hospital) and Paul Maenu (businessman and former member for Lau Mbaelelea, 2001-06).  The incumbent, Silas Milikada, came in fourth.

East Honiara is an interesting seat to follow for a couple of reasons …

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