Elections in April 2024

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EDDIE OSIFELO

PEOPLE in Solomon Islands will go to the polls around April 2024 afte after Parliament passed the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2022 without amendments yesterday deferring the 11th Parliament to December 2023.

Initially, the term of the 11th Parliament commenced on 15th May 2019 and ends on 19th May 2023.

About 37 of the 49 Members of Parliament voted for the Bill in the second reading and third reading to pass the bill.

The Chairman of the Bills and Legislative Committee, John Maneniaru asked Parliament for his Committee By to scrutinize the Bill after the passage of the second reading.

However, the Government made its stand for the Committee of Supply to consider the Bill.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare claimed the Bill has gone through wider consultation by Members of Parliament in their respective constituencies and would get the same results.

Opposition Leader, Mathew Wale said in his debate said the people of Solomon Islands must remember this sad day, when their government abused their parliament for no worthy reason, but a power grab by the Prime Minister.

He said the people’s government and the people’s parliament are being abused by the few who are exercising executive government powers.

“This sets a bad precedent. Bad decisions come from bad intentions,” he added.

Independent Leader, John Dean Kuku said with the coming into operation of the original Section 73 (3) on or about January 1, 2024, the Electoral Commission is expected to commence preparations for holding of the 2023 National General Elections in 2024.

“This is absurd. Mr. Speaker, the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2022 if passed, is incapable of being legally and practically implemented.

“It will lead to a constitutional crisis because there are now two dissolutions of this house. The Electoral Commission will have to decide which dissolution to follow to hold the next general elections,” he said.

Kuku alleged there are other ramifications that will emanate from the passage of this Bill.  

“First Mr. Speaker, your term as Speaker of this House will have terminated on May 15, 2023. 

“If the Bill is extended, you remain as Speaker for a further 7 months and 16 days and will continue to enjoy benefits that are currently accorded to you,” he said. 

“Secondly Mr. Speaker, Members of Parliament will remain in office for a further 7 months and 16 days. 

“In terms of benefits, Members of Parliament will continue to receive their entitlements for a further 7 months and 16 days,” he said.

Kuku said it clearly appears to him that the only real beneficiaries to this Bill are Members of Parliament and yourself as the Speaker. 

“This is corruption at the highest-level Mr. Speaker. 

“We have weaponized Parliament as a tool to benefit ourselves and not our people,” he added.

Parliament stands adjourned to Monday 7th November 2022 to prepare for the Appropriation Bill and Government MPs attending oversea trips.

PM Sogavare will lead the Government delegation to the upcoming United Nations General Assembly in New York, United States of America. The Deputy Prime Minister, Manasseh Maelanga will also attend the funeral of former Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe during the break


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