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Solomon Islands new prime minister encourages 'vigilance' from opposition


 Jeremiah Manele,

By Pacific Island Times News Staff


Honiara-- The Solomon Islands’ newly elected prime minister buckled down to work this week, announcing that the new administration called the "Government for National Unity and Transformation" has begun drafting its policies and programs for the first 100 days.


“We hope to unveil it soon. There are also a number of legislation that are ready to come before Parliament,” said Jeremiah Manele, a former diplomat who won the presidency in a secret ballot conducted Thursday by the Solomon Islands parliament.


Manele, a China-friendly politician, defeated opposition leader Mathew Wale, an arch-critic of the Solomon government’s deals with Beijing.


In his victory speech, Manele acknowledged Wale and the other coalition group.


“I trust that as the alternative government, you will be vigilant in providing the check and balance to the Government of National Unity and Transformation,” said the new prime minister who is succeeding Manasseh Sogavare.


Manele was first elected to parliament in 2014 and led the opposition at the time when the Solomon Islands had diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

 

“While we may be on opposing sides, we all have one ultimate purpose that is to serve our people and country,” Manele said, addressing Wale and his coalition.


In Washington, the U.S. State Department congratulated Manele on his election.


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“We also congratulate the people of Solomon Islands for making their voices heard, and we applaud the many officials and volunteers, especially from the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission and the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force, whose dedication made the free and fair elections of April 17 possible,” said Matthew Miller, spokesperson for the department.


The U.S. government has stepped up its relations with the South Pacific nation on the heels of Honiara’s move to sever ties with Taiwan and switch to China in 2019. In 2021, the Solomon Islands’ security agreement with Beijing raised concerns in Washington.


“We look forward to working with Prime Minister Jeremiah Manele to further strengthen the U.S.-Solomon Islands relationship and move our nations toward a better future,” Miller said.


Manele said the series of violence in the Solomon Islands took their toll on the nation’s economy.


“It is reported that the recovery of the global economy is steady but slow. We as a country continue on the recovery path after the Covid-19 global pandemic and 2021 riots,” Manele said.


“The recent report by CBSI on the state of our economy is concerning and calls for a more focused and aggressive approach. It is not an easy task but we will be reaching out to all relevant stakeholders as we progress on our road to recovery,” he added.

 

The new government’s immediate task is to appoint cabinet members in the coming days, Manele said.

 



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