Observers hope for smooth Solomons election

10:38 am on 1 April 2019

The chairperson of the Commonwealth Observers Group and former Vanuatu prime minister Sato Kilman says he hopes the Solomon Islands election goes smoothly and that people benefit from the results.

The group is made up of eminent persons from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

Mr Kilman said his team of 15 would travel to several provinces including the capital Honiara and observe the organisation and conduct of the election including the environment in which it is held.

"The government, the electoral commission, the populace have done a lot of work to try and make sure that this election is fair and that people of the Solomon Islands can benefit from [it]. And this is I think everyone's hope and we are here to try and assist and make sure that the elections are run fairly and if not then we will report our findings to the electoral commission and to the relevant authorities," he said.

Former Vanuatu Prime Minister Sato Kilman

Former Vanuatu Prime Minister Sato Kilman Photo: RNZ Koroi Hawkins

There are several international observer groups in the country for the election including from the Melanesian Spearhead Group and the Pacific Islands Forum.

Local observer groups will also have their eyes on the democratic process.

The polls open at 7am on Wednesday, which has been declared a public holiday.

A national liquor ban will be in place for the polling and the counting to follow.

There are 50 parliamentary seats up for grabs in the first-past-the-post race.

Election issues extremely local in Solomon Islands - NZ High Commissioner

Meanwhile, New Zealand's High Commissioner to Solomon Islands said seemingly big issues like the recent grounding of the bauxite ship off Rennell Island were not election issues for the average voter.

Don Higgins said elections were very local in Solomon Islands.

Mr Higgins said he had been heavily involved in preparations for the national general election this week.

He said it was important to keep issues like the grounding of the MV Solomon Trader in the news so people were aware of the threat to fragile ecosystems like Rennell's.

However, Mr Higgins said issues related to what directly impacts people's communities.

"The statistic I hear and use sometimes is that 80 percent of the population still live in villages of fewer than a hundred people. And these are very remote locations, very remote villages so politics is intensely local in Solomon Islands."

A campaign float in Solomon Islands

A campaign float in Solomon Islands Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Koroi Hawkins

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