Monday, December 05, 2022

Australia’s great deal for the Solomon Islands

La gran oferta de Australia a las Islas Salomón

To live

Australia has formally offered to fund the Solomon Islands elections after internal pressure to delay national elections.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong said the resolution reflects Australia’s long-standing commitment to democracy in the Pacific.

Senator Wong said it was up to the Solomon Islands government to decide how they would respond to aid.

He denied the offer after the Pacific Games in November in response to Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogaware’s efforts to delay the election until 2024.

Sogaware has said that his country cannot afford to hold both the Pacific Games and the election, and hopes to introduce legislation in parliament to delay the elections.

Senator Wong said the Australian government had made a proposal, but it would not be based on whether it had already been accepted.

“This reflects our long-standing and historic commitment to supporting democracy and democratic processes in the Solomon Islands,” he told ABC Radio on Tuesday.

“We’ve offered support before and we’re offering support again.”

The minister said it was “reasonably common” for the government to help support elections in the Pacific, and that the problem was a matter for his government to solve.

Asked whether there were concerns that China might intervene to quell the unrest caused by protests to delay the election, Senator Wong said Mr Sogaware had consistently said Australia was the security partner of choice.

“Australia maintains the position that we have held for some time that security is the responsibility of the Pacific family of which we are a part of,” he said.

The confirmation follows that Australian and New Zealand warships will be exempted from a temporary ban on foreign naval vessels entering their country’s ports.

Senator Wong said she welcomes the decision, but would not comment on the fact that the US is under sanctions.

“The Solomon Islands have publicly indicated that they are taking decisions on a case-by-case basis. They are a sovereign nation and that is their business,” he said.

“The United States has a long history of presence in the Pacific prior to World War II, and the United States is part of the region’s history, and part of the region’s present and future.”

Honiara signed a security deal with Beijing in April amid growing concerns over China’s growing influence in the region and aggression.


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