The consultation on the Electoral Reform to synchronize elections in the country continues for the three remaining provinces.
The Taskforce on Electoral Reform consulted Members of Rennell and Bellona Provincial Assembly on Wednesday 14th September this week and will be consulting its stakeholders towards the end of this year.
This would be the 7th meeting of its scheduled consultations with members of provincial assemblies for the 10 provinces including the Honiara City Council.
Hon Premier for Rennell and Bellona Province, Mr. Japheth Tuhanuku in his opening remarks during the 1-day consultation meeting highlighted that, to be consulted on such important reform was a great privilege for the MPAs and welcomed the consultation program with an open view.
“I gratefully welcomed the consultation with open view and optimistic that any decision from the consultation will enable participation of all eligible citizens in the making of the government at all levels of governing”, Mr. Tuhanuku expressed.
Hon. Premier Tuhanuku, also acknowledged the difficulty in conducting elections under three separate election laws especially when it comes to election coordination and operation.
He points out and urges interlocutors to recognize the need to return the responsibility of the conduct of elections to one central body whose sole role is to manage and conduct elections in the country, hence highlighting that aligning all laws governing elections in the country is very important.
In concluding his remarks, Hon. Premier assures the Taskforce of his government and Stakeholders’ support and looks forward to the planned stakeholder audience later this year.
Iterating on the importance of the reform, One of the Commissioners of the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission Mrs. Taeasi Sanga, in her remarks during the consultation, appreciates Renbell’s welcoming response to the invitation and anxiously awaits the assembly’s position on the proposed agenda.
The discussions with the provincial assembly focussed on the advantages and disadvantages of simultaneous elections and how this could be maintained over subsequent general elections.
It also covers other important areas such as the proposed amendments to the election-related provisions of the Provincial Government Act 1997 as well as proposed changes to the Provincial Government (Election) Regulations.
Amongst the discussion on the proposal on election synchronization, MPAs also showed support for the agenda on the out-of-constituency voting.
One of the members of the provincial assembly, Hon Member for Ward 9 in Renbel province uttered his support towards the synchronization of the election reform at the same time expresses his view in support of the idea of the out of constituency voting
Other MPs also showed their support for the reform and further added that lack of infrastructure should not be used as an excuse.
Generally, MPAs from Rennell and Bellona back the proposed electoral reform and would like to see it go through as it will enhance good governance and practices.
They call on the Taskforce to make sure, all views shared must be respected and considered including that of women, youths, people with disabilities, and other minority groups in our society.
Chairlady electoral reform taskforce, Mrs. Florence Joel concluded the meeting by acknowledging members of the assembly for their availability and sharing their views during the discussion.
She highlighted the importance of consensuses between all levels of government is the way forward to getting this reform agenda into implementation.
“The idea of holding simultaneous elections is a good one however, there needs to be consensus and cooperation between all levels of government in order for this to work”, said Mrs Joel.
She concluded that all comments and observation from this discussion is very useful and will definitely help in drawing a conclusion on this reform discussion.
It was a worthwhile discussion as views are frankly shared and that was really appreciated.
The Taskforce will continue to roll out its consultation program for the remaining provinces as soon as possible over the next few months and is looking forward to more engaging and constructive contributions from the remaining provincial assemblies and other stakeholders in those provinces.
Five provincial assemblies including Honiara City Council have been consulted. There are four more provinces to go to and including the following provinces, Malaita, Temotu, Western, and Choiseul Province.
Next on the schedule is Malaita Province. The Taskforce is traveling to Auki over the weekend ahead of the consultation on the 19th and 20th of September 2022.
It will hold consultations with the Malaita Provincial Assembly on 19 September and the wider community stakeholder on 20 September 2022.
The Taskforce encourages all members of the provincial assembly and Malaita stakeholders to attend these meetings and share their views.
The Electoral Commission and the Taskforce would like to acknowledge the continuous support of the Solomon Islands Government in collaboration with its donor partners the Australian Government and UNDP through the SECSIP project
If you want to know more on any election related matter or check up for new updates on Election happenings, follow SIEO Facebook @SIelectoralcommission page and website on www.siec.gov.sb Or for general enquiry, you can call the office hotline phone on 7222200 or landline 21198.