12 Apr 2019

Solomon Islands man charged with murder over election violence

1:53 pm on 12 April 2019

A Solomon Islands man has been charged with murder over a dispute related to last week's general election, a blow to an otherwise peaceful poll.

The incident happened on Bellona island, the day before the vote on April 2, when two men got into a drunken fight over which candidate to support.

Solomon Islands police commissioner Matthew Varley on the eve of the country's elections.

Solomon Islands police commissioner Matthew Varley on the eve of the country's elections. Photo: RNZ / Koroi Hawkins

Doctors have said it turned deadly when one of the men was decapitated.

The country's police commissioner, Matthew Varley, said one man appeared in court last Thursday and had been remanded in custody on murder charges.

Several other arrests had been made over violence related to the election, which included minor assaults and threats, he said.

"These were cases that occurred in the community involving people who were having disagreements with each other," Mr Varley said.

"We're very confident that there was no major threats or intimidation and no major disturbances to the ballot process at the vote itself."

Police said on Thursday they had contained tensions between rival groups in Malaita province over the drowning of a man after he got into an argument over election candidates.

Mr Varley said an investigation including an autopsy had concluded there was no foul play in the man's death.

Crowds flocked to political rallies all across the country over the weekend ahead of the Solomon Islands election

Political rallies drew large crowds in the lead up to the Solomon Islands election on 3 April. Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Koroi Hawkins

In a separate incident on Monday, five suspects from West Guadalcanal were arrested after a fight between two groups over the announcement of a winning candidate, in which two boys were shot and injured.

The offenders have been charged with intimidation, malicious damage and assault and will appear in the Honiara Central Magistrates Court on 29 April.

There has also been a flood over complaints over alleged vote tampering but Mr Varley said he had seen no substantiated reports related to the meddling.

Mr Varley said he was hopeful for the peaceful formation of a government in the coming weeks and the election of a prime minister.

"The message here really is that Solomon Islanders are looking for the next chapter of government, they're looking for hope for the future and a better future."