By Alfred Sasako
THE Solomon Islands Electoral Commission is ready for the 2019 National General Election – thanks to leading donors like Australia, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the European Union (EU).
SIEC Chief Executive Officer, Mose Saitala, acknowledged the joint contributions by the donors whose representatives yesterday attended the launch of a new initiative to increase voter awareness.
The UNDP has entered into an agreement with Solrice to distribute some 110,000 Register-to-Vote leaflets throughout the nation, using SOLRICE commercial networks.
Australia was represented by its High Commissioner, Roderick Brazier at the launch, while the UNDP’s Olga Maria Rabade provided formal welcome and introduction of the project.
EU’s Charge’ d’Affaires, Elena Mendez-Adalid and Naomi who represents People with Disabilities of Solomon Islands, also attended the launch at the SOLRICE head office at Ranadi.
Mr Saitala said told a news conference yesterday the Electoral Commission is grateful for the support, which helped the Commission complete the registration phase in the preparation for next year’s election.
“We have completed the formal training of voter registration managers as of last Friday,” he said.
Mr Saitala said the Electoral Commission has increased the number of teams that would do the voter registration, being rolled out from 20th August.
“We will have 125 teams – an increase of 33 teams from the number we had in 2014 when there were only 92 teams,” Mr Saitala said.
Asked whether the bottom line of the Register to Vote awareness initiative was to increase voter turn-out, Mr Saitala said while the turn-out in 2014 was good, “we certainly would like to better that.”
Eighty-nine percent of registered voters cast their votes in 2014.
Mr Saitala also announced that special booths would be provided in the 2019 election so that people with disabilities would have easy access to cast their votes.
Ms Naomi who represents the Association of People with Disabilities of Solomon Islands told the news conference she’s happy that the Electoral Commission has taken their concern onboard.
“We are happy that we will be participating in the election,” she said.
Australian High Commissioner Roderick Brazier acknowledged that there was “still a long way to go” in terms of preparation for next year’s poll.
He added Australia is pleased to be able to provide the financial support for the initiative.
Australia, he said, would continue to provide the necessary support to ensure a good election outcome for the people of Solomon Islands.
UNDP’s Olga Maria Rabade also acknowledged the support provided by Solrice in allowing leaflets on Register-to-Vote to be distributed throughout Solomon Islands using Solrice’s network.
EU’s Charge’ d’Affaires, Elena Mendez-Adalid said the EU is pleased to be part of an initiative, which “tackles a fundamental issue” in more and more people to being made aware of the need to take part in the election.