Wed, Apr 24, 2019 - Page 3 News List

MOFA ‘monitoring’ Solomon Islands political situation

SHIFTING LOYALTIES:Lawmakers in the Pacific nation are to vote today on a new leader after an race in which candidates vowed to review relations

Staff writer, with CNA

The logo of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is pictured in an undated photograph.

Photo: Lu Yi-hsuan, Taipei Times

The government is closely following the political situation in the Solomon Islands as the Pacific ally prepares to vote for a prime minister in an election that could determine the future of ties between the two nations.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and its embassy in Honiara are keeping in close contact with each of the nation’s political parties after general elections on April 3 failed to give any party a parliamentary majority, spokesperson Andrew Lee (李憲章) said.

The Solomon Islands would soon have a coalition government, but there are “too many variables” to determine when it would happen, Lee said.

“We will make sure to keep close and friendly relations with every major political figure to ensure our diplomatic relations remain stable with the new administration,” Lee said.

Several media reports cited a number of senior politicians, including Acting Solomon Islands Prime Minister Rick Hou, as saying that they would review diplomatic relations with Taiwan if elected.

Members of parliament are today to vote on who should head the new government, Radio New Zealand reported on Friday last week.

The two candidates are Mathew Wale and Manasseh Sogavare, the report said.

Wale was nominated by his Grand Coalition Group (GCG), while Sogavare was nominated by the Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement.

Hou is part of Sogavare’s coalition, which claims to have the support of 33 lawmakers in the 50-member parliament, while the GCG said it is backed by 28 lawmakers.

Parliamentarians are to vote in secret ballots, with the winning coalition needing at least 26 votes.

Claims of support are typical in the Solomon Islands, where party loyalties are constantly shifting, making it impossible to know what the winning coalition will look like or how it will approach relations with Taiwan.

To further solidify ties, the ministry last month signed a memorandum of understanding in which Taiwan is to offer “strategic loans” reportedly totaling up to NT$900 million (US$29.17 million) to help the Pacific country build a national stadium for the 2023 Pacific Games.

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