MSG observer group gives 14 recommendations to improve elections

By Mike Puia

Head of the MSG Observer Group, Ratu Inoke, and SIEC Chairman, Patterson Oti, (front center). Looking on are members of the MSG and SIEC.

THE Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) observer group has provided Solomon Islands with 14 recommendations on how the country’s elections could be improved.

These are contained its report of the country’s recent National General Elections to the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission (SIEC).

There is no detail provided about this report. However, Fiji’s retired diplomat and politician, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, indicated there are 14 commendations inside this report.

Kubuabola, Fiji’s former Defense Minister, was the head of the MSG observer group.

The group arrived in the country on the invitation of the government prior to polling day on April 3.

Kubuabola and the MSG Director General, Ambassador Amena Yauvoli, presented the report to the SIEC chairman Patterson Oti last Friday.

The SIEC’s Chief Electoral Officer, Mose Saitala, also witness the handing over of the report.

This is the first MSG observer group to observe the country’s national elections. MSG has been sending observer group to observe elections in other MSG member countries.

Beside the MSG, there were other international, regional and national groups that observed the country’s elections. Over 200 observers from different observation groups observed the country’s elections.

Observation groups are independent. Their observations are important as it help to improve how elections are conducted.

The MSG observer group comprises of highly respected citizens from MSG member countries.

SIEC chairman and speaker of parliament, Oti, thanked the MSG observer group for the “job well done”.

Kubuabola thanked the government for giving his group the opportunity to observe its elections.

He said the country’s 2019 general election has been a smooth and peaceful elections.

Kubuabola said the country’s general elections have been calm and there were no issues observed on polling day.

He said it was obvious electoral officials were well trained and they know what they were doing.

Kubuabola commended the 24-hour campaign blackout and the alcohol ban.

He said the campaign blackout and liquor ban have helped make the polling day peaceful.

The MSG observer group was split into three teams. One teams observed elections in and around Honiara, another team was deployed to Kirakira in Makira Province and the other to Gizo in the Western Province.

“Our teams were impressed with what they saw,” Kubuabola said.

Ambassador Yauvoli suggested the need to increase the size of MSG observer groups.

He said the presence of observers in everywhere makes people excited and feel they are being cared about.

On receiving the report, Oti said this is the first report from an observer group to reach the commission.

He said he hope other groups would present their report to the Commission so that the Commission works on a summary report.

Oti, a former diplomat and politician, said the Commission would want to understand the recent general elections in its entirety.

He said there are common and there are standalone issues noted by other groups and teams.

He said the Commission would understand issues pertaining to the recent national elections once it viewed all the reports from the various observer groups and teams.

Oti indicated that the Commission has identified a number of issues to improve on come the next general elections.

One of which is the issue of disable voters.

Oti said the Commission is of the view that disable people should come under a special arrangement like pre-polling so as not to rush them to polling stations during polling day.

The SIEC’s CEO, Saitala, said they have completed their lesson learn evaluation of the elections and they have identified areas that need improvement.

He indicated the SIEC would do away with the registration period.

Saitala said registration of voters might become a yearly activity.

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