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NZ Solomon Islands Election Observer Team

New Zealand is sending 9 observers to monitor the general election in Solomon Islands on 5 December said Foreign Minister Phil Goff.

“The observers will be part of a team of more than 80 international observers that will help ensure the election takes place as scheduled in a free and fair manner.

“Chris Carter, Member for Te Atatu and Junior Government whip, leads the New Zealand team. Mr Carter has had extensive international experience, including as an observer of the first multi-racial elections in South Africa in 1994.

“The international observer team will be made up of representatives from the UN, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the EU, the US, Japan, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, five Pacific Island countries, and New Zealand and Australia.

“New Zealand has already made a substantial contribution to the running of the election, having provided NZ$1.1 million assistance to the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission.

“Assistance during the election period will also include the addition of 14 personnel from Police, Defence and Foreign Affairs to the 46 member International Peace Monitoring Team (IPMT) that already has a strong New Zealand presence.

“Following 2 years of ethnic tension that culminated in the overthrow of the Ulufa’alu Government in June 2000, the election is widely seen as the country’s last chance for a breakthrough on all fronts - political, security and economic.

“But the election takes place during a bleak time in Solomon Islands history. The year long peace process that followed the signing of the Townsville Peace Agreement in November 2000 succeeded in ending open ethnic conflict, but it has not stemmed the nation’s on-going decline.

“Much of the formal economy has shut down, public finance is in ruins, large sections of the public service are barely functioning, and essential services are in disarray. Even with the election of a legitimate government, Solomon Islanders, with the support of the international community, will face a long and difficult road towards reconstruction,” Mr Goff said.

The other members of the New Zealand observer delegation are:

Hon Richard Prebble, Leader of ACT New Zealand Party, who has a family connection to the Solomon Islands and has made numerous visits since 1976;

Hon Wyatt Creech, Shadow Minister of State. Mr Creech’s father was part of the US Marine contingent deployed in Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, during World War Two;

Doreen Prebble, a Solomon Islands citizen, former Honorary Consul for Solomon Islands in New Zealand, and Chairperson of the Solomon Islands/New Zealand Association;

Des Ratima, Alliance policy analyst and a former Warrant Officer in the New Zealand army;

Father John Craddock, a Marist Priest with over a decade of teaching experience in Solomon Islands;

Tia Barrett, a former New Zealand High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, and current Director of Protocol in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade;

Rhys Richards, a former New Zealand High Commissioner to Solomon Islands and current Chairperson of the Rainbow Warrior Pacific Development and Conservation Trust.

Bernard Hillier, also a former New Zealand High Commissioner to Solomon Islands.

Ends

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