7 Aug 2010

Reports of more violence as counting continues following Solomon Islands poll

3:17 pm on 7 August 2010

The Solomon Islands election, which was hailed as trouble free on polling day, has been tarnished by a series of incidents where the supporters of losing candidates have reacted angrily to the results, damaging property and a ballot box.

The police and the Electoral Commission are now appealing for people to respect the democratic process after another evening of trouble as the prolonged period of counting continues following the election.

In Tulagi 16 people were arrested last night after property was damaged when people, who were unhappy with the result in their constituency, entered the shop of the winning candidate.

While in Auki 200 people gathered outside the provincial headquarters, unhappy with the counting process.

Police Commissioner Peter Marshall says there was a threat to the integrity of the building and the ballot boxes, prompting an election official to take preventative action.

"one of the electoral boxes was given to the crowd to ensure that there was not going to be any disorder or violence ensuing. The electoral officer passed over that ballot box and as I understand it, it was destroyed."

That incident follows the earlier stoning of a counting station and looting of a shop of the relative of a winning candidate in Temotu Province, reportedly by supporters of losing candidate and OUR party secretary Patteson Oti.

The incidents have prompted the chair of the electoral commission Sir Peter Kenilorea to appeal for calm.

yes people might have strong feelings about certain actions but we do have processes to deal with that under our law and I hope that people will continue to respect the electoral process.

The police say they have sent in reinforcements to all three locations.

In further election results, Rick Hou, a former Central Bank governor of the Solomon, has defeated the Foreign Minister William Haomae in the constituency of Small Malaita.

Mr Hou resigned his lucrative job with the World Bank in Washington DC to pursue a political career.