Parliament this evening passed the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2022 to defer the national general election to 2024 with 37 of the 49 MPs voted in support.
Solomon Islands Parliament Chamber during today’s debate. Photo: NPSI
After a lengthy debate from both sides of the house which concluded around 6pm this evening, the bill which requires two-thirds of the house was passed in the third reading.
Ten MPs voted against while 2 MPs were absent during the voting according to the Speaker of Parliament Patteson Oti.
The Act now alters the Constitution to suspend the operation of Section 73(3) until December 2023, to dissolve the eleventh Parliament on 31 December 2023, and for related purposes.
This means that next year’s national general election will be held in early 2024.
When presenting the second reading of the bill, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare says the bill is an important legislation and its occasion is the need for Solomon Islands to “proudly host the Pacific Games 2023 and carry out its electoral reforms.”
The Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2022 has seven clauses.
“It must be made clear to the people of Solomon Islands that this Constitution Amendment Bill is a sunset amendment, which means the bill is effective for a limited period of time,” Prime Minister Sogavare says.
The Prime Minister says the bill will cease to be effective on 1st January 2024 following the dissolution of Parliament.
The bill was presented to Parliament on 5th August 2022 in accordance with 61(4)a of the constitution which requires 4 weeks before it will be ready before parliament.
The government did not have the resources to host the 2023 Pacific Games and hold an election in 2023, thus, seeking Parliament to amend the constitution to move the election to 2024.
By Jared Koli