BY ALEX DADAMU
THE Australian National University (ANU) Observation Report for the 2019 National General Election (NGE) was officially handed over to the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission (SIEC) on Wednesday 5th February.
The Report for the 2019 National General Election (NGE) was based on the observation work carried out 15 Solomon Island s academics and researchers who lead the constituency observation teams – 62 observers and team members recruited from the civil society and the tertiary sector in the country including the academic and professional staffs from the Australian National University (ANU) Department of Pacific Affairs.
The report concluded with several longstanding and emerging challenges that remained an outstanding problem in the country and it reported the following: Underrepresentation of women, money politics, accuracy of the roll, Crossborder registration and Constituency Development Fund influence on Member of Parliament incumbency rates.
The report further stated that the risk is that the observable fact of cross-border registration will become an ever-greater feature of future elections and an increasing focus for potential candidates.
“Cementing cross-border registration as a feature of the Solomon Islands electoral process would risk undermining the integrity and popular confidence in the legitimacy of that process.
“The Solomon Islands is, of course, free to determine how its citizens should qualify to register to vote. At the very least, however, Solomon Islanders and their elected representatives should debate the trend towards cross-border registration and its implications for their democracy,” the report stated.
The ANU Department of Pacific Affairs ran a large-scale election observation exercise in the Solomon Islands prior to, during and following the national election held on the 3 April 2019.
The researches and observations of the report were conducted in 15 of Solomon Islands 50 constituencies and it comprised of direct election observations and almost 5000 citizens’ surveys.
Chairman of the Electoral Commission and speaker of the national parliament, Patterson Oti received the report on behalf of the Commission from James Batley, the ANU Election Observation mission team leader.
The ANU Election Observation team later on the day did a presentation of the report to the public at the Solomon Islands National University’s Kukum Campus lecture theatre.
Speaking on behalf of the Electoral Commission at the presentation of the ANU Observers report, Sir Patterson Oti thank Mr. Batley and his team for their comprehensive presentation on their findings on the way the Solomon Islands prepared and conducted the 2019 National General Election.
“Thank you for the comprehensive presentation on your findings on the way we prepared and conducted our 2019 National General Election.
“The Electoral Commission takes the findings of the ANU observation report seriously because it enriches our findings and provides reasons for your findings that are based on your research-based approach in wanting to know more as to why voters behave the way they did,” Mr. Oti said.
A good number of the public was also present to witness and listen to the report presentation and was also given time to contribute their feedback and comments during a panel discussion organized for the audience.
The Chair to the Electoral Commission, Sir Patterson Oti in the meantime reiterates his acknowledgment for the Australian National University (ANU) Observers team for assisting the commission to deliver a much more credible election in the future.
“The Commission looks forward to working more closely with you in the future as partners in strengthening the conduct of our election in the Solomon Islands.”