Tuesday, 10 August 2010 10:38 AM

Solomon Islands Election 2010 - Joint Statement

SOLOMON ISLANDS ELECTION 2010INTERNATIONAL ELECTION OBSERVERSSTATEMENTPacific Islands Forum, Australia and New Zealand8 August 2010

International election observers from the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Australia and New Zealand congratulate the people of Solomon Islands, the Solomon Islands Government and the Office of the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission on the orderly, peaceful and friendly conduct of the national elections on 4 August 2010.

Members of the delegations from the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Australia and New Zealand were part of an international observer effort coordinated by the United Nations Electoral Assistance Division (UNEAD). The international delegates observed polling in 330 polling stations in 29 of 50 constituencies.

These observers' assessment is that the polling process was well conducted and transparent, and that voters were able to exercise a free and secret vote. While we observed some minor technical issues in particular polling stations, our assessment is that these were not significant enough to compromise the integrity of the overall process.

Our observation of the counting to date indicates that it is being conducted and tabulated in a careful and transparent manner.

We noted concerns about the accuracy and currency of the electoral roll. We support calls by Chief Electoral Officer, Mr Polycarp Haununu, for a comprehensive review of the electoral roll as a priority.

Observers were concerned that a number of registered voters, including polling staff and police, were not able to vote due to the absence of any system for "out of area" voting. We would strongly encourage Solomon Islands authorities to consider introducing such a system in the future.

We also noted that, in a limited number of polling stations, a number of registered voters waiting in line to vote were not able to do so due to the close of polling stations at 5pm. We would encourage Solomon Islands authorities to assess the reasons why those polling stations were unable to process those voters, with a view to improving arrangements for future elections.

We were impressed by the commitment and technical proficiency of electoral officials in conducting the polling and counting smoothly and in accordance with Solomon Islands law. We encourage the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission to continue early and comprehensive training for electoral officials.

Observers were encouraged by the level of voter awareness and congratulate the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission on its voter awareness program. We recommend that such programs continue to further improve community awareness of democratic principles.

International observers recognise the important role played by domestic observers, whose presence contributed to the transparency of polling and counting processes.

A peaceful environment prevailed across the constituencies observed on polling day. We recognise the effective role played by the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) in providing effective but unobtrusive security for the election.

We note the second phase of the election process, the election of the Prime Minister by Members of Parliament, is still to come, and trust that the commitment to democratic principles which we observed on polling day will prevail.

We thank the UNEAD's Electoral Coordination Team for the excellent coordination and logistical arrangements for international observers.

Finally, we wish to record our appreciation to the people of Solomon Islands for the hospitality which international observers encountered everywhere we went.

Mr Sakiusa Rabuka for the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat
Mr Bob Davis for Australia
Rt Hon Wyatt Creech for New Zealand