By Gary Hatigeva
FORMER politician and former diplomat Patterson John Oti has been elected as the new Speaker to National Parliament of Solomon Islands.
This was known after a tense voting process, which saw a total of 48 Members of Parliament that were present in yesterday’s session, taking part in a secret ballot.
After taking their oaths, all 48 MPs went straight and participated in the voting process for the election of the speaker’s post.
From the total of votes casted, 45 were counted where the former speaker Ajilon Nasiu received a total of 15 votes, while the newly elected received 30.
According parliamentary officials, two MPs were absent as they are currently away on overseas duties, while three votes were spoilt.
Following the announcement of the winning candidate, the outgoing speaker suspended meeting for him to vacate the Speaker’s seat, and to allow little time for the newly elected speaker to go through a quick briefing, where he then took charge of the remaining businesses of the first day of sitting.
But before vacating the seat, the former speaker took time to thank members of the 10th Parliament House for what he described as, the enormous trust they have bestowed on him, to oversee the businesses of parliament in the last four years.
Nasiu also thanked the people of Solomon Islands particularly those that have took part in what he had also described as, a peaceful national general election process, which gave them the mandate to elect a new speaker.
He then acknowledged and congratulated the newly appointed Clerk to Parliament David Kusulifu, whom according to the former speaker, was the right choice, and someone who has the right experiences and quality to take up the post.
Kusulifu was the Deputy Clerk in the 10th Parliament House before taking up the Clerk post, after it was left vacant by the former who is now the newly elected MP for North Vella la vella, Clezy Rore.
The former speaker in his concluding remarks challenged all members to maintain the high respect that has always been given to Parliament, and urged all members to give the new speaker the same support they had rendered to him during his tenure in office.
Meanwhile, in a press conference with the media after the first meeting, the new Speaker to Parliament thanked the outgoing speaker for his service to the country and shared that he is looking forward to working closely with all members of the current house.
Not new to the speaker’s post, Oti who was a Deputy Speaker during his time as MP, expressed that it is a great honour for him to have been elected the new speaker, acknowledging the expectations that rest on him as he will play his role to further enhance the work of parliament as head of legislature.
Oti, a onetime MP for the Temotu Nende constituency, which he held until the 2010 general elections, but was later appointed Solomon Islands’ High Commissioner to the Republic of Fiji, before his election yesterday, as the new Speaker of Parliament.
Prior to his appointment as High Commissioner, Oti was Solomon’s special envoy to the Melanesian Spearhead Group, but before that, he served mostly as a senior public servant.
The newly elected speaker was nominated by the Member of Parliament for East Malaita, Manasseh Maelanga, for the government side, while his predecessor was nominated by the Member of Parliament for South Choiseul, Robertson Galokale from the Opposition and Independent group.