The Commonwealth Observer Group (COG) in Honiara has commended the people of the Solomon Islands for “participating peacefully and in high numbers in their national general election”.
The Group reconvened in the capital after being deployed to Western Province, Isabel, Malaita, Central Province, Guadalcanal and Honiara City for the election on 3 April. They acknowledged the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission (SIEC) for conducting the election in a timely manner, notwithstanding a new Electoral Act that was only adopted in September 2018.
50 members of parliament were elected using the first-past-the-post system. With a population of just over 600,000 people, the electoral process remains logistically complex.
Sato Kilman Livtuvanu, a former prime minister of Vanuatu, chaired the observer group. Speaking to the media after the vote, he noted a number of positive aspects of the 2019 elections, ranging from the introduction of pre-polling, to the professional conduct of polling officials and the efforts of the media to raise awareness around electoral processes and issues and facilitate public debate. The Chair noted that some of the recommendations from previous Commonwealth Observer reports have been implemented and reflected in the new Electoral Act.
However, the Chair also recognised areas for improvement, such as some inconsistencies with regard to polling processes and the training of election officials, and the efficiency of new counting procedures.
The interim statement was issued as the count was ongoing with several results still to be declared. The Group will now finalise its report, which will be submitted to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, who will then share it with the new Solomon Islands Government, the SIEC and other national stakeholders, as well as with other Commonwealth countries and the public.
Concluding the press conference, Mr Livtuvanu said: “It has been a privilege for our Group to observe this important democratic process in the Solomon Islands. The country’s journey in consolidating its democracy and development continues and the Commonwealth will work closely with the incoming Government and other development partners. We hope that our report and recommendations, if implemented, will continue to strengthen the Solomon Islands’ electoral system and democratic institutions.”