Gov’t to work closely with electoral office on propose extension of parliament.

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By EDDIE OSIFELO

GOVERNMENT will work closely with Solomon Islands Electoral Commission to do consultation with the people before deciding to defer the elections to 2024.

Under the constitution, national elections must be held every four years. The next election is due next year.

However, Government is locked with the option to extend the Pacific Games in 2023 to another year because it will lose the hosting right and penalised heavily by the Pacific Games Council.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare told Parliament yesterday during the Committee of Supply of the 2022 Budget that according to the Charter, they cannot host the Pacific Games when the Olympic Games happens in 2024.

The Olympic games is scheduled to take place in France from 26 July to 11 August 2024.

Further to that, Sogavare said the government will need $43 million to do the bio metric registration.

He said the intention is to do it at the third quarter.

“For voter registration we want to put in place and get the system running in place towards end of this year and peak up in 2023.

“Registration is key, if we have updated every day, we can go to polls after Parliament dissolves,” he added.

In addition, Sogavare told Parliament the government will need $49 million to do the elections.

He highlighted also the number of Electoral Reforms that needs to be enacted before the next elections.

The reforms include out of constituency vote for Solomon Islanders living abroad, hold the national and by election on the same day and amend the Political Parties Integrity Act.

However, Opposition Leader, Mathew Wale said the intention of the Electoral Act is for instantaneous registration daily, when parliament dissolves, next day elections can go ahead.

“But that did not happen because resources are not allocated to Electoral Commission for all the years.

“We are aware where we are because of government’s neglect to allocate resources to them,” he said.

“On the point of the reforms, I am not sure how many years we need to postpone elections to carry out because there are quite long list of reforms,” he added.

Wale said judging of government productivity in past years up until now, they will need a very long time to get all of that done.

“I don’t think those reforms are necessary grounds for extension of elections.

“In any case as law as it stands, is that every four years then Parliament to finish,” he said.

Wale said there ought to be prudent to allocate funds, once government decides to postpone elections, obviously those funds could be reallocated that deems require.

He said to leave it out when laws are not changed, then Parliament must dissolve after four years.

“Otherwise, we will reach a situation where government says we proceed with what current law requires then we are not giving time to pass supplementary for Commission to kick in to run registration,” he added.

PM Sogavare said they can do it other way, there are budget instruments to allocate resource to it if they need to go to it.


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