Early Solomon Islands election results show shakeup in most populous province

Daniel Suidani, ousted as premier after opposing China projects, was elected to Malaita’s provincial assembly.
By Stephen Wright for BenarNews
2024.04.18
Honiara, Solomon Islands
Early Solomon Islands election results show shakeup in most populous province Former Malaita premier Daniel Suidani makes a point during an interview with BenarNews in Auki, Solomon Islands on Nov. 21, 2022.
Stephen Wright/BenarNews

A Solomon Islands politician ousted as premier of the Pacific island country’s most populous province after opposing diplomatic recognition of China has been reelected to its provincial assembly, according to preliminary election results released Friday.

The results from Malaita province are among the first to be made public since the voting in national, provincial and capital city elections took place Wednesday. Electoral Commission officials have said they hope that many results will be known by the middle of next week.

Daniel Suidani won the most votes in his provincial constituency, an Electoral Commission spokesman Ednal Palmer told RFA-affiliated news organization BenarNews. Martin Fini, the politician who replaced Suidani as premier following his ouster in a no confidence vote in February last year, was not reelected, according to a separately announced vote count for his constituency.

The election in the Pacific island country of 700,000 people was the first since its combative, pro-Beijing prime minister Manasseh Sogavare switched diplomatic recognition to China from Taiwan in 2019 and signed a secretive security pact with the Asian superpower.

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Polling workers prepare to count ballots at a vote counting center in Honiara, Solomon Islands on Apr. 18, 2024. (Stephen Wright/BenarNews)

Under Suidani, Malaita’s provincial assembly opposed the diplomatic switch to Beijing and issued its Auki Communiqué banning China-funded projects in Malaita despite the island’s crumbling roads, rickety bridges and threadbare health system.

Suidani touted benefits from a United States development aid project in the province, but it was slow to produce tangible results. He remained popular and attracted large crowds to his campaign rallies in Malaita.

The central government’s ineffectiveness in providing basic services and the struggle to earn enough money to survive was preoccupying many voters when they headed to the polls on Wednesday. Whether Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare will stay in power is also keenly watched by governments from China to Australia and the U.S. 

Once vote counting is completed, members of Parliament decide the prime minister so leadership of the Solomon Islands may not be known until May.

BenarNews is an RFA-affiliated online news organization.

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