Solomon Islands elects Jeremiah Manele as new prime minister | Solomon Islands Election News

In an election that was closely watched by China, the United States, and Australia, the former foreign minister won the support of 31 members of the 50-seat House of Representatives.

Solomon Islands’ parliament has elected former Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele as its new prime minister.

Mr Manele has pledged to continue the Pacific nation’s pro-China foreign policy and received 31 votes in a secret ballot on Thursday.

His opponent, long-time opposition leader Matthew Wale, secured 18 votes.

The vote in the 50-member parliament comes amid heightened security in the capital, Honiara, with police patrolling the parliamentary grounds to prevent potential unrest.

Speaking outside parliament, Manele praised the fact that past violence was not repeated.

“People have spoken,” he said. “Today we showed the world that we are better than that.”

Manele’s appointment comes after no political party won a majority in last month’s national elections. Both sides have been lobbying for support from independent voters in the 50-seat parliament ahead of Thursday’s vote on prime minister.

The election will be closely watched by China, the United States and neighboring Australia, as it could have regional security implications after outgoing Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare signed a security pact with China in 2022. There is.

Mr. Sogavare, who forged close ties with the Chinese government during his five years in power, has not sought re-election to the highest political office and his party supported Mr. Manele. The politician was foreign minister in 2019, when the Solomon Islands turned its back on Taiwan and established diplomatic relations with China.

Manele’s OUR party, which pledged to develop the island nation’s infrastructure, won 15 seats, and won four seats in a new coalition with two smaller parties. It needed support from independent voters to win the 26 seats needed for a majority. One councilor was absent, and a total of 49 votes were cast.

Former Solomon Islands Australian diplomat and Lowy Institute researcher Mihai Sola said that compared to Sogavare, who was a “polarizing figure”, Manele was “a strong man who has worked well with all international partners”. He said he has a proven track record.

Australian National University Pacific expert Graham Smith said Manele had talented players and would represent a “huge change of style” for the Solomon Islands.

Manele pledged to form a “government of national unity” focused on improving the economy and “moving forward on the road to recovery” after the coronavirus pandemic. He said bills on value-added tax, the establishment of special economic zones and regulations on national resources would be at the top of the new government’s agenda.

Mr Wale, the opposition leader who leads a 20-seat coalition party called CARE, said on Wednesday that the government had failed to create jobs and that the economy was dominated by logging and mining companies that shipped resources to China, while clinics said it was in financial trouble. lack of access to basic medicines such as paracetamol;

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