Solomon Islands goes to the polls

The people of Solomon Islands will vote in provincial and national elections on Wednesday April 17th. Campaigning ended at midnight on the 15th and many people have left the capital Honiara to cast their votes in their home provinces.

These are the first elections to be held since caretaker Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare dumped the country’s longstanding diplomatic relationship with Taiwan in 2019 ushering in a growing relationship with Beijing. However, voters will be more concerned with securing improved service delivery than issues of geopolitics. Basic healthcare, infrastructure, and jobs for a large youth population are front of mind for many.

Sogavare is hoping to become the first Prime Minister to be re-elected to a successive term in Solomon Islands. Counting is likely to be a lengthy process and will then be followed by a period of negotiation and horse-trading before a government is formed.

Marshall Islands dealing with social problems arising from deportees

Authorities in Marshall Islands are concerned about increasing numbers of social problems connected with criminal deportees. Since borders reopened post-COVID, the USA has deported more than 20 people per year. The mayor of Majuro, Ladie Jack, points to serious offences that have been committed by the deportees as evidence of the damage that this is doing to Marshallese society.

Marshall Islands lacks appropriate levels of services to provide interventions that can assist people to retake their place in society. The national government has now established a taskforce, led by MP Marie Davis Milne to tackle the problem.

This issue is not limited to Marshall Islands. The Federated States of Micronesia has received around 90 deportees per year other than during COVID. Countries such as Tonga and Samoa are also dealing with this issue as their citizens are deported from not just the US but also New Zealand and Australia.

Other Pacific News

As Vanuatu prepares to hold its first ever referendum on constitutional amendments aimed at ensuring political stability, there is confusion within the Opposition ranks, with two MPs claiming to lead the very small bloc.

China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, will arrive in Papua New Guinea for an official visit at the end of this week. PNG foreign minister, Justin Tkatchenko, has said that there will be new agreements announced related to agriculture and economic growth.

China has offered to assist Tonga with ensuring security at the meeting of Pacific Islands Forum leaders, to be held in August. Whilst some observers have queried the involvement of Chinese police, the Secretary-General, Henry Puna has dismissed their concerns.

In Australia, Fijian Colonel Penioni Naliva has been removed as deputy commander of the Australian army’s 7th Brigade. This comes further to reporting in the Australian media of allegations of torture against Naliva.

The government of USA has rebuffed claims from China that the well-established ship rider arrangements with the US Coast Guard are in breach of international law. This comes further to six Chinese fishing vessels violating Vanuatu law that were apprehended recently.


Dr Tess Newton Cain is a Senior Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute and project lead for the Griffith Pacific Hub.