Pro-Beijing Solomon Islands Leader Wants To Avoid Elections
Solomon Islands' pro-Beijing prime minister has proposed changing the Constitution to delay scheduled elections, officials confirmed on Tuesday (Aug 9), fuelling concerns for the future of democracy in the Pacific nation.
After months of speculation, Mr Manasseh Sogavare has formally put a Constitution Amendment Bill to Parliament that would delay next year's election - citing the burden of hosting the Pacific Games, a sporting event, in the same year.
The proposal, obtained by media, seeks to suspend the dissolution of the 11th Parliament on Dec 31, meaning the general election would not happen until 2024 at the earliest.
The Solomon Islands Parliament is expected to discuss the constitutional changes on Sept 5, a parliamentary official told reporters.
Mr Sogavare, a four-time prime minister who has twice been ousted by votes of no confidence, is facing another challenge to his premiership, this time over his increasingly close ties with Communist China.
After widespread rioting in the capital Honiara demanding his ouster late last year, Mr Sogavare signed a secretive security pact with Beijing that - according to a leaked draft - would allow him to call in Chinese security forces to quell further unrest.
Opposition Fears Sogavare's Transformation To The Dictator
At home, Mr Sogavare's detractors see the effort to change the Constitution as another move by a leader who has become increasingly autocratic since his latest stint in power began in 2019.
So it's happening. PM Soga has submitted the Constitution Amendment Bill to postpone the dissolution of the 11th Parliament), Mr Matthew Wale, leader of the Solomons opposition, stated on Tuesday. I encourage all citizens to use the Bills Committee process to air their views, he added.
Moves to muzzle the country's public broadcaster have only fuelled concerns about the trajectory of Mr Sogavare's rule.
The 67-year-old insists he wants to defer the elections only because the Solomon Islands "do not have enough funds" to host both the Pacific Games and an election in the same year.