The upcoming national general elections will now be held in 2024 after Parliament passed the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2022 to defer the national general election.
37 of the 49 MPs, all of whom are in government, voted in support of the bill. Ten MPs voted against while 2 MPs were absent during the voting according to the Speaker of Parliament, Patterson Oti.
The eleventh Parliament will now dissolve on 31 December 2023, and the bill will cease to be effective on 1st January 2024. The national general elections will be held within four months from that date.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare says the bill is an important legislation and its occasion is the need for Solomon Islands to “proudly host the Pacific Games 2023 and carry out its electoral reforms.”
The Opposition Leader blasted the Prime Minister, stating that the outcome was clear from the start and the government orchestrated the whole extension by putting Parliament in a ‘no choice position.’ He highlighted electoral reform delays and the delay in resourcing the electoral commission to carry out its mandate, which includes updating the electoral roll, as delay tactics by the government.
The government maintained that it did not have the resources to host the 2023 Pacific Games and hold an election in 2023, necessitating the move to amend the constitution to move the election to 2024.