INQUIRY SOON

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National Parliament of Solomon Islands
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BLC sets to inquire into decision to delay elections

By OFANI EREMAE

THE Bills and Legislation Committee (BLC) will soon carry out a provincial-wide inquiry into the Government’s move to defer next year’s election by a year to 2024.

This comes as the Government unveiled a controversial bill to amend the Constitution so that the election could be deferred by a year.

Opposition leader and member of BLC Mathew Wale told reporters yesterday the inquiry, which will be carried out at provincial centres, will happen as soon as Government releases funding.

“We hope to complete the inquiry within six weeks before parliament can debate the bill,” Wale said.

Notice of Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2022 was issued in parliament this week.

The bill intends to delay next year’s election and extend the life of the current parliament from May 2023 to 31 December 2023.

This means the next election will be held within the four months after 31 December 2023.

Government says the extension is necessary because of next year’s Pacific Games in Honiara.

It argued, despite widespread public opposition, that the country cannot afford to host two major events – election and Pacific Games – within the same year.

But Wale yesterday argued there is simply no sufficient weighty grounds for amending the constitution merely just to host the Pacific Games.

“Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare is playing around with the Constitution,” Wale stated.

“It’s a terrible decision that will set a bad precedence for the country,” he added.

“It’s bad governance.”

The Prime Minister’s Office recently dished out $100,000 to each MP to carry out constituency consultations on the matter.

The funds were drawn from the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), and will be deducted from the next round of CDF pay-outs.

Prime Minister Sogavare has told parliament a report based on the constituency consultations has been produced.

But Wale said Government is yet to furnish BLC with a copy of the report.

“We need to see the report,” he said.

East Makira MP and BLC member Derick Manu’ari said the recent constituency consultation was poorly organized.

“The Government has not provided MPs with the right information about its proposed move to extend life of parliament by a year,” Manu’ari said.

“It was a poorly organized consultation,” he added.

Manu’ari said the decision was taken to undermine the Constitution.

He said deferring the elections because the country is also hosting the Pacific Games in the same year is not a good reason to amend the Constitution.

“Simply, the Government has hijacked established processes to fulfill its ambition to defer the elections.”

Opposition leader Wale says the only reason he could think of as basis for delaying next year’s election is “the fear of losing the election”.

“The real reason for postponement is not because of the games. The real reason is they are scared.

“They are scared of losing the elections. They are scared of the people not voting for them.

“No matter how much money China gives them for the election, they will lose because people have had enough of them and the bad decisions they’ve made.

“That’s the real reason.”


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