Churches say no to extension of parliament

National Parliament of Solomon Islands
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Churches have come out voicing their opposition to government’s proposal to extend the life of parliament from four to five years.

The Solomon Islands Christian Association (SICA) warns that this proposal shows government’s willingness to let a regional sporting event trump the country’s constitution.

“We need to avoid that bad precedence,” SICA warns in a media statement yesterday.

SICA’s voice adds to the growing string of disapproval by peoples and organisations in the country toward’s DCGA government’s proposal.

Earlier this week, media reported that East Kwaio constituents had advised their member of parliament not to bother carrying out a planned visit to discuss the extension proposal.

The national council of women (SINCW), Transparency Solomon Islands, the parliamentary opposition and independent groups, the umbrella body of civil societies – the Development Services Exchange (DSE), and other prominent bodies and individual citizens have come out since April last year disagreeing with this DCGA proposal.

SICA, which represents the main Christian churches in the country, said the churches “do not welcome the idea of the extension of parliament from [four] to [five] years per term, but would like to see the National General Elections (NGE) taking place next year 2023, few months before the Pacific Games in November.

“We feel that the national constitution and the Pacific games if weighed on a scale, the national constitution would have more weight than the Pacific games. Therefore, we feel that only the Pacific games can be pushed forward to take place in 2024, but not the NGE.

“We feel that the Pacific games (or any other games for that matter), is not in a better position to influence and change our national constitution, we need to avoid that bad precedence.”

Last year’s November riots is one reasons SICA has decided to speak up on this issue.

“The experiences encountered during the burning and looting of China Town in November 2021 and previous unrest made the churches feel that it should make this statement, because we (the churches) would not like to see any more civil unrest in this peaceful nation.

“We would like to bring about a peaceful unifying strategy so that we maintain the peace, love and unity of Christ in the Solomon Islands.

“Finally, we (the SICA Executive) are willing and are also open to any round table discussion with the government if requested.”

The DCGA proposal to extend parliament life was leaked early April last year.

Government has since reasoned that it is to avoid costs of hosting the Pacific Games and the holding national general elections in one year – 2023.

Last week government ministers were reportedly set to visit their constituencies to discuss the proposal with their constituents.

Media reported last week that three had begun theirs: Stanley Sofu (MP for East Kwaio), Jeremiah Manele (Hograno-Kia-Havulei) and Frederick Kologeto (South Vella la Vella).

Other government ministers and MPs would follow suit, Solomon Star reported.