Home World News Solomon Islands Picks Pro-China Leader As The New Prime Minister

Solomon Islands Picks Pro-China Leader As The New Prime Minister

Solomon Islands
FILE PHOTO: Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi shakes hands with Solomon Islands Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele during a ceremony to mark the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two nations at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China, September 21, 2019. Naohiko Hatta/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

Lawmakers from the Solomon Islands have selected Jeremiah Manele as the new prime minister. Manele, who is said to be China-friendly, won 31 votes to Opposition leader Matthew Wales’s 18 in the 50-seat Parliament.

Speaking outside parliament on Thursday, Manele said that “the people have spoken.”  Calling for calm he said. “I humbly stand before you, as your elected prime minister. We must respect and uphold the democratic process.”

Unrest has gripped the island and according to an Al Jazeera report the vote in the 50-member Parliament took place amongst heightened security with police patrolling parliamentary grounds. The vote was needed as last month’s elections failed to give a clear majority.  The previous PM, Manasseh Sogavare, withdrew from the contest and backed Manele after failing to secure a majority. Sogavare’s election in 2019 sparked riots in the capital Honiara over legal questions hanging over his eligibility to become prime minister. More serious riots resulted in arson and looting in Honiara in November 2021 after his leadership survived a no-confidence motion moved by Wale.

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The US, China, and Australia were watching the elections closely, and the election of Manele as the new prime minister will see a continuation of the island’s pro-China policy. Sogavare’s government turned its back on Taiwan and established diplomatic relations with Beijing. Wale, on the other hand, favoured returning to closer ties with traditional aid donors such as Australia and accepting infrastructure aid from the United States.

(With inputs from Reuters)