Scenes from election day in the Solomon Islands

“I’m really looking forward to some change,” says a local who was waiting to vote.
Stephen Wright
Honiara, Solomon Islands

Taeasi Sanga, chairwoman of the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission, declares national election polls open, April 17, 2024. [Stephen Wright/BenarNews]


A woman places her marked ballot in a box at a Honiara polling station, April 17, 2024. [Stephen Wright/BenarNews]


Voters wait in two lines to cast their ballots in the Solomon Islands national election, April 17, 2024. [Stephen Wright/BenarNews]


Eddie Toifai (center) listed the economy, law and order and leadership as issues that drove him to the polls on a rainy day in Honiara, Solomon Islands, April 17, 2024. [Stephen Wright/BenarNews]


Solomon Islands voters look at lists of candidates with their photographs outside a polling station in Honiara, April 17, 2024. [Stephen Wright/BenarNews]


A woman waits to have her name checked on the electoral roll in a village on the island of San Cristobal before voting in the Solomon Islands national election, April 17, 2024. [Charley Piringi/AP]


A woman shows her inked finger after voting at a Honiara polling station, April 17, 2024. [Saeed Khan/AFP]


A polling station official in the Solomon Islands capital Honiara seals a ballot box in Honiara as voting ended on election day, April 17, 2024. [Stephen Wright/BenarNews]


Residents in Honiara gesture during a parade marking the final day of the campaign ahead of the Solomon Islands national election, April 15, 2024. [Stephen Wright/BenarNews]


Members of the New Zealand Defense Force Joint Task Force assist in delivering ballot boxes by helicopter to remote areas of the Solomon Islands in this handout image released on April 17, 2024. [Handout/New Zealand Defense Force via Reuters]


Solomon Islands citizens fill a truck during a campaign parade in Honiara, April 15, 2024. [Stephen Wright/BenarNews]

Solomon Islands residents formed long lines to vote at polling stations in Honiara, the nation’s capital, even before the electoral commission declared them open at 7 a.m. on Wednesday. 

In a livestreamed announcement, Commission Chairwoman Taeasi Sanga reminded her 700,000 fellow citizens of this sometimes volatile Pacific island nation to remain calm. The general election had been scheduled for 2023 but was delayed because the Solomon Islands could not afford to hold it during the same year it was hosting the 24-nation Pacific Games, officials said.

The counting of ballots likely won’t be finished until late this month, the commission said. MPs will then vote on a prime minister after the results are final.

As they headed to the polls, most Solomon Islanders were not concerned about the ongoing competition between Beijing and Washington for influence in the region. Instead, their focus was on dilapidated roads, poor health care including shortages of over-the-counter painkillers, rising prices and job shortages.

Voter Eddie Toifai listed the economy, law and order and leadership as important issues as he waited in the rain to cast his ballot in Honiara.

“I’m really looking forward to some change, if the leadership of this country can change for the better,” Toifai, a lawyer, told BenarNews.

Whether Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare will retain office is being watched by Chinese, Australian and U.S. government officials, among others. The vote is the first since Sogavare switched his country’s diplomatic recognition to China from Taiwan in 2019.

Regional powers New Zealand and Australia have contributed about U.S. $21 million toward the running of the election and deployed warships and aircraft to deliver ballots to remote locations in the Solomons, a nation comprising hundreds of islands in the southwestern Pacific. 


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