Wednesday, 27 February 2013 12:00 AM
Policing a Clash of Cultures Part 22: A Solomon Islands General Election.
Extract from my memoirs.
As police planning for the general election began to take shape worries over the usual shortage of money to cover police operations began to concern me.
Initial doubts about being able to deploy enough policemen in all the electoral areas to monitor the election process and provide security were re-kindled just two days before Election Day, when the Electoral Commission met to decide whether the election could still go ahead.
The Secretary to the Commission, John Babula, told the meeting that the cost of the whole election process had been estimated at S$3.8 million but the Electoral Commission had received only S$1.7 million from the government.
The cliffhanger somehow got resolved at the eleventh hour-- on the eve of Election Day, when it was announced the balance of the funds had been acquired and the country’s 194,994 registered voters would be able to cast their votes on polling day – August 6, 1997. It was promptly declared a public holiday.
On polling day itself the country witnessed large numbers of voters at all the designated polling stations with attendances higher in the rural electorates than at some of the urban centres in Honiara.
Observers commented that the high turnout reflected the fact that the people wanted a new government with good leaders to get the county out of its economic mess.
Touring the urban voting centres, I was impressed by the orderly and good-natured way the people were waiting in long lines in the hot sun to make their choice.
By the time the polling stations had all closed there had been no incidents reported throughout the country and I was well satisfied that the police operations had gone smoothly. Credit to all concerned.
To be continued …
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Frank Short, CBE and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.