9 Aug 2010

Caretaker PM returned to Solomon Islands parliament

3:23 pm on 9 August 2010

Caretaker prime minister Derek Sikua has been returned to parliament as counting continues in the Solomon Islands election.

The Electoral Commission expects counting to be completed on Thursday, Radio New Zealand International reports.

Dr Sikua reclaimed his constituency of North-East Guadalcanal by a margin of 1600 votes.

People are now speculating he will be in the running to be prime minister in the new government with contenders such as former Deputy Prime Minister Fred Fono losing out in his constituency.

Other candidates for the top job could include Gordon Darcy Lilo, Steve Abana, Job Tausinga, Danny Philips and Manasseh Sogavare, although Mr Sogovare's OUR Party is not faring as well as expected.

Winning MPs have now been advised to come to the capital Honiara to begin to attempt to form a coalition and elect a prime minister.

Meanwhile, the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission says there is no legal provision for a recount in the constituency where a ballot box and ballot papers were destroyed on Friday night.

Counting was to resume in Malaita on Monday, having been suspended when ballot papers were burnt by a crowd of about 200 people angry about reports of vote-buying.

Commission chair Sir Peter Kenilorea says they have received written requests for a recount in the Lau Mbaelelea constituency, but the law does not allow this, and grievances have to be left until the end of the process and the only important recourse is through the courts.

Ontong Java will hold its election on Monday and will be the last votes to be counted on Thursday.