The office of the prime minister has responded to Opposition Leader’s earlier statements that PM Sogavare lied to the nation.
“The Opposition Leader should take a good look at himself before launching a tirade against the government on the proposed deferment of the national general election from 2023 to 2024,” a statement from the office said.
“Government has been promoting the idea of delaying the election since the issue has been made public and Opposition Leader Matthew Wale only has to consult the Hansard record from the national parliament to confirm that,” the statement added.
“Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has stated clearly that government intends to defer or delay the election to 2024.”
The statement said the leaked copy of the cabinet conclusion of February 2020 which the Opposition has relied on to say government is advocating for the extension of the life of the parliament was an initial discussion.
“That has changed following consultations with relevant stakeholders and this has been articulated well in the speech from the throne by the Governor General.
“For purpose of reminding Mr Wale, at the start of the sitting of the national parliament this year the Governor General in his speech from the throne has made four recommendations for government to consider in light of the intention to delay the 2023 national general election.”
The statement further highlighted that Sir David Vunagi outlined the four recommendations as follows:
- Government to consider a snap election this year
- Government to consider holding the election next year as scheduled
- Government to consider deferring or delaying the election to 2024
- And government to consider extending the life of parliament from four to five years on permanent basis
The OPMC statement said after weighing the options, government is in favor of the third recommendation and there are justifications for it.
“Firstly, government cannot support a snap election.
“A snap election would mean the Electoral Commission will be using the old voters’ registration list and this would deprive the rights of the new eligible voters, these are boys and girls who by now are in the ages of 18 and above.
“Besides, the Electoral Commission is in the process of pursuing two important fundamental reforms and they are; the automated registration system and the out- of- constituency voting.
“These reforms are important to ensure a free and fair election for the country.
“Secondly, government cannot support the recommendation to hold the election in 2023 as scheduled.
“To defer the Pacific Games to 2024 as suggested by some people, is not possible as the Olympic Charter does not allow another international sporting event to take place at the Olympic year- 2024.
“In addition to that, government does not have adequate resources to host both events,” the statement explained.
“While government is aware that the scheduled 2023 national general election is constitutional, the government understands as well that the constitution can be amended through two third support of parliament to cater for this sunset arrangement.
“Thirdly, the idea to defer or delay the election is plausible.
“When the government has done away with the 2023 PG, it will have enough resources to hold the national general election in 2024 and that option is heavily considered.
“However, government is aware that only through the process of parliament that this option can be realized.
“Fourthly, to move permanently to a five-year parliament term will require the consent of the people which political parties can advocate for in their manifestos and campaigns for the next general election or general elections thereafter.
“Should the Opposition Leader had paid attention to the speech from the throne by the Governor General, he would have fully grasped how and why government has arrived at the decision to defer the national general election.”
The statement said the government never misled the nation, it was the Opposition Leader who continue to make inciting messages in his many press statements and releases.
“Wale is reminded that prior to the November 2021 riot, his inciting messages contributed to inciting the march into Honiara and the burning of Chinatown and Ranadi.
“Wale showed reckless behaviour and leadership and made misleading statements then.”
The OPMC statement added that Opposition Leader’s insinuation that the PM incited the riot by refusing to meet with the protestors was a lame accusation as the PM cannot be answerable to an illegal entity- M4D- who was believed to be orchestrating the riot.
“Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Wale continues his tirades in Auki recently where he made inciting statements similar to ones he blurted leading to the November riots.
“As a country, it is in our interest that the November riot is not repeated.”
The DCGA Government urges the Opposition Leader to stop misleading the public with propaganda aimed at inciting public animosity.