Pacific Islands

Solomon Islands' Sogavare says he runs security amid tense wait for new government

April 24, 2024 3:16 pm

[Source: Reuters]

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manesseh Sogavare said he narrowly won his seat and still exercises power over security in the Pacific Islands nation, as he vies with opposition parties to form government after an election delivered no clear winner.

Election results on Wednesday showed Sogavare’s OUR party won 15 out of 50 seats in the national parliament, with major opposition parties holding 20 seats, and independent and micro parties controlling 15 seats.

Last week’s election was the first since Sogavare struck a security pact with China in 2022, inviting Chinese police into the archipelago and drawing the Pacific Islands nation closer to Beijing.

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The election is being watched by China, the U.S. and neighbouring Australia because of the potential impact on regional security.

United party leader Peter Kenilorea Jr and Democratic Alliance Party leader Rick Hou told Reuters the situation was fluid as lobbying of independents got underway, in a race to find the 26 seats needed to form a government.

In an interview with Tavuli News published on Wednesday, Sogavare said he had won his seat of East Choiseul by “the narrowest of margins”, which was “much to the disappointment of the western world”.

Sogavare said the world was interested in the outcome of the election because of his government’s decision in 2019 to switch diplomatic ties from Taiwan to China.

During the post-election period of lobbying to form government, he remains in control, he said.