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Solomon Islands Elections On Track For This Year

18th August 2001


Foreign Minister Phil Goff has welcomed the decision of the Solomon Islands Government not to present the bill in Parliament aimed at forestalling this year’s scheduled election.

The decision gives confidence to the electoral process and means that there is now nothing standing in the way of Solomon Islanders going to the polls in December this year in accordance with the Constitution.

"Holding of elections late this year represents the best chance for a breakthrough on all fronts – political, security and economic. The electoral process is already well underway.

"In June New Zealand provided a grant of NZ$350,000 to enable the Electoral Office to begin work. I have indicated a willingness to provide substantial additional funds, up to NZ$750,000 if required, at a later date once other donors have had a chance to contribute to the process”.

"Because of the ethnic conflict of the last two years, including the forced resignation of former Prime Minister Ulufa’alu, it is important that fresh elections are held this year to elect a government that has a clear and democratic mandate.

"Without that mandate the Peace Process, which has succeeded to date in ending ethnic hostilities, would be placed at risk and there would be little chance of salvaging the economy.

"I am concerned that despite the presence of the International Peace Monitoring Team to which New Zealand contributes 14 personnel, the Peace Process has had only limited success in promoting the surrender of weapons by former militants.

“It is my hope that the election of a new government will create a climate in which the Peace process can make real progress in removing weapons from the community so that people no longer need to live in fear of the gun," Mr Goff said.

Ends

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