By EDDIE OSIFELO
The Solomon Islands government has made the decision to move forward with 9 out of the 22 provisions proposed in the Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2023, as recommended by the Electoral Commission.
Prime Minister Sogavare, addressing Parliament during the second reading of the Bill yesterday, highlighted the Cabinet’s endorsement of the Commission’s 22 recommended amendments to the Electoral Act.
However, due to time constraints in the current Parliamentary session and the limited capacity of the Legislative drafting team, it was agreed to prioritize only 9 of the proposed amendments, considered essential for the smooth running of the electoral process, particularly in anticipation of the joint elections in 2024.
Sogavare cited reasons such as competing urgent bills and the need for the Legislative drafting team to handle them as factors influencing this decision.
“The remaining 13 provisions, including those related to voter registration, out-of-constituency voting, and out-of-country voting, are earmarked for potential consideration once the new government is in place.
“Notably, one of the proposed amendments seeks to redefine the term “ordinary resident,” with the potential for additional amendments based on post-2024 election lessons and recommendations from local and international observer missions,” he said.
The main objectives of the Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2023 are:
- to address specific provisions of the Electoral Act 2018 identified after the 2019 national general elections;
- enhance the Commission’s capacity to address complaints about the conduct of electoral officials, and
- provide flexibility to the 56-day election activity timeline, especially in the context of concurrent elections for the National Parliament, Provincial Assemblies, and Honiara City Council.