9 Mar 2006

Solomon Islands government urged to allow local election observers

10:19 am on 9 March 2006

A prominent commentator in Solomon Islands says the monitoring of the general election in April would be more effective if locals were more involved.

John Roughan from the Solomon Islands Development Trust says 50 international observers are expected to monitor the national poll.

However Mr Roughan says trained locals could make better observers.

"It's really the idea that somehow getting experts from overseas who, know so little about the culture, conditions, the language, how they could be more effective than local people who are cognisant of the language, traditions, customs, they're experts in the area, how they could be better than local experts, that's what I find disturbing."

John Roughan says the ideal scenario would be to have a limited amount of foreign observers sprinkled through teams of locals.

I would suggest rather strongly that these overseas observers be embedded with teams of Solomon Islanders who could make them aware of what is going on, what is the dynamics that they are looking at and at the same time the overseas observers assisting the Solomon Islanders could say 'look see how important it is to have the ballot box in a particular area', I think both sides would win.

Nominations for candidates closed yesterday afternoon.