Private Column by Frank Short, CBE
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Friday, 1 March 2013 12:00 AM

Policing a Clash of Cultures Part 23: Election Results.

Extract from my memoirs.

In the 48 hours that followed polling day, the election results were eagerly awaited. Early signs indicated a major election defeat for several candidates of the old government, including some of the National Party.

Another major election upset saw the Deputy Prime Minister and parliamentary leader of the National Action Party, Francis Saemala, lose his seat to a former trade union leader, Bartholomew Ulufa’alu, in the Auki/Langa Langa constituency of Malaita. The win immediately gave way to speculation that Ulufa’ala could be a serious contender for the prime ministership if he could gather enough winning candidates to support him and form a party.

By mid August there were only two still undeclared seats out of 48 awaiting finalization; however analysts were predicting another easy return for Solomon Mamaloni – who had won his seat of West Makira with a comfortable majority. He had 15 of his former ministers and backbenchers retaining their seats and it was considered he needed to “pull in” a few newcomers to secure the numbers to form a new government.

Much lobbying took place in the days before the announcement of a Prime Minister – the Mamoloni camp on the one hand and a grand coalition of political parties on the other – each side vying for power.

As time pressed on, there was intensive public debate which, in the main, indicated that people were demanding a change of the Islands leadership. One comment in the local press read, "We are tired of living under conditions that have never made our welfare any better than in pre-missionary days.”

On 19 August, the newly elected member for the East Kwaio constituency, Alfred Sasako, announced that twenty-one members of the grand coalition group had met and elected the Liberal Party leader, Ulufa’ala, to be their candidate for the prime minister’s position.

Sasako also made another surprise announcement saying that the grand coalition, to be known as the Solomon Islands Coalition for Change, had elected one of Mamoloni’s supporters, Michael Maina, to be their candidate for the Speaker of Parliament. However Maina later withdrew his candidacy, when nominations for the Speaker closed on the 21st of August.

Also the Solomon Islands Coalition for Change later on changed its name to Solomon Islands Alliance For Change, or SIAC.

Mamaloni must have sensed his chances of forming the new government were looking less likely as the deadline for announcing the new prime minister drew nearer and, to the surprise of most observers and analysts, he withdrew from the race and left it to Danny Philip to stand against Ulufa’ala.

On 27 August Ulufa’ala was declared to be the new prime minister and he ushered in a coalition administration under the SIAC banner.

The new administration comprised rather a loose coalition of six parties, including 14 independent members. Ulufa’ala was a Malaitan but his deputy, Sir Baddeley Devesi, a former Governor- General was from Guadalcanal.

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.