SOLOMON Islands will go to the polls early 2019 and the political race for the 50 parliamentary seats has begun.
We are now halfway into 2018 and to date there has been no information available from the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission as to when the registration of voters will be undertaken and where the registration locations will be throughout the 50 constituencies.
This information is very important to ensure that all voting age in Solomon Islands are given the opportunity to cast their votes for their chosen candidates come election day.
A huge number of citizens not in the current voters list will have reached the age of voting and must be added into the list of voters, and those who have passed on removed from the list.
Given what we know of how elections are rigged, it is important that information, awareness of the process of registration of voters must now begin so that people know and get themselves to be registered.
Transparency Solomon Islands calls on the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission to get on with this work as soon as possible as well as provide information on this so that other stakeholders may help in civic awareness to inform people of voting age of their right to register and to vote come election day.
Transparency Solomon Islands raises this in light of what is currently going on behind the scenes with regard to preparation for the coming election by intending candidates, and political parties fielding candidates.
To date we are aware that a number of elites in the country such as the top senior public officers, retired government officers, former MPs are joining the race to form the government after the National General Election (NGE) next year.
They need to know what the law says about the various processes leading up to the election and what is allowed and what is not allowed by the law and the consequences of such conducts or practices.
Transparency Solomon Islands is aware of young aspirational leaders working with other mature inspirational leaders with the aim of trying to turn around the country from the worrying trend that we now see.
It is the general view of these inter-generational aspiring leaders that the leadership of this country no longer serves the interest of the people of this country, nor does it deliver the services, basic and developmental needs despite the millions in the budget appropriation year in and year out.
The only way that this can be done is to create a level playing field through registration of voting age people or by carrying out registration of voters in a transparent and accountable way, and to have an independent observer of the registration of voters’ process.
This we believe will go a long way in injecting new blood, new vision into the highest decision-making democratic institution of Solomon Islands, the National Parliament.
From Transparency Solomon Islands observation and based on the work that we carry out in advocating for good government and clients calling into our office civic awareness is important especially for new candidates
Constituents have realised that increase of Constituency Development Fund over the years through Members of Parliament would have benefited the rural populace with regard to some tangible developments, in particular access to improved health and education services, social cohesion infrastructure development, water supply, sanitation, improved roads, the basics that one needs in the rural area, but so far it has been a very big disappointment.
Transparency Solomon Islands notes with concern some of the pressure now being put on new intending candidates by existing political party discouraging them from standing and putting pressure on their supporters.
We are aware of allegations that some political parties have put in place a strategy to either stop or discourage intending candidates that are regarded as a threat to sitting members.
Whilst these allegations are at this point in time, Transparency Solomon Islands is of the view that the alleged practices need to be brought out in the open and encourage those who intending candidates, supporters of candidates that are subject to these pressure to keep a record of it.
This way the information can be used to inform legislative reform programs that criminalises these practices.
There are a number of hot seats in this coming general election that are being subject to political pressure, and new candidates intending to contest against certain political party MPs.
Transparency Solomon Islands commends political party leadership that are not putting anyone standing against their candidates, or anyone of the sitting members they have, and we encourage them to continue to do so.
Every intending candidate and every voter must be given their right to stand and right to vote freely.
Transparency Solomon Islands has been alerted to allegation that huge sums of money for purposes of luring intending candidate with huge sum of money not to contest the election and to buy elected MPs across to increase their numerical strength ahead of the formation of new government in 2019 and after the election.
This practice should be criminalized in the Electoral Bill, but we do not see this.
Given these allegations, Transparency Solomon Islands still maintains its view that the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission and the Political Parties Commission should not merge.
TSI condemned in the strongest term government’s intention to block new candidate contesting against the current MPs in every constituency.
This creates an environment for corruption to thrive during elections and in the processes leading up to election.
What we have come to learn is “corruption at the highest level that harms everyone and robs community of important goods and services,” TSI said.
Business houses, and individuals must refuse to accept corruption as part of our lives, refuse to elect corrupt leaders.
TSI urges government and public institutions should act in an honest, transparent and accountable manner and fight corruption.
TSI calls on Solomon Islanders must stop this mentality of living in rural areas where its reach is limited, and because their needs are pressing.
Solomon Islanders must be allowed to vote for the candidate who they choose and who will stop the worrying trend that is taking place now where women giving birth have had to be stitched without local anesthetic, children who could not complete their vaccination because a government prioritises the payment of CDF and not of medicine and other services.
New blood into the leadership of this country is needed.
This is a same SIDCCG government.
TSI wants to know what your thoughts are on these issues. Call us on 28319 or visit our office at Hyundai Mall Room 226.