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1,041 polling stations set up across Solomon Islands, Caretaker PM confident of securing seat
5:31 pm GMT+12, 20/03/2019, Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands caretaker Prime Minister Rick Hou has announced that a total of 1,041 polling stations will be set up across the country for the April 3 polls.
 
Hou made this announcement during his final press conference as a caretaker PM in Honiara.
 
“Details of the polling stations will be published in the newspapers this week,” Hou said.
 
“We have 14 days to go to the election,” he added.
 
“Thursday 21st March has been selected by the electoral commission to be the pre polling day.”
 
He further explained that as many of our police officers and electoral commission workers who will be working on 3rd April 2019 will cast their votes on 21st March in Honiara and at the provincial headquarters.
 
Hou said each polling station is expected to receive all ballot papers by April 2.
 
He added that the electoral commission office has decided that counting of votes for all constituencies will be undertaken at each provincial headquarters.
 
“Ballot boxes from each constituency will be transported to the respected provincial headquarters for counting,” Hou told the media.
 
The Solomon Star understands that 335 candidates will be contesting the National General Election – 25 are females.
 
Meanwhile, Hou said he’s confident of securing his Small Malaita seat and returning for a third term in Parliament.
 
Hou expressed his confidence in his final press conference as prime minister Tuesday.
 
He’s leaving office this week to concentrate on his campaign in Small Malaita.
 
Five other candidates are challenging him for the seat, which he first won in 2010 and went on to reclaim it again in the 2014 elections.
 
A former banker, who was once the Governor of Central Bank, and later a World Bank adviser in Washington, United States, Hou was given the Finance portfolio after his 2010 election victory.
 
At the Ministry of Finance, he was credited for exempting low paid workers from paying tax by increasing the tax threshold to $30,000 (US3,751).
 
He became prime minister in late 2017 when Manasseh Sogavare was ousted in the no-confidence vote.
 
In April 2015, he took a stand in Parliament against tax exemption for MPs.
 
Asked whether he’ll go for another term as PM if he wins his seat, Hou said that will be up to his party – Democratic Alliance Party (DAP).
 
“I belong to a Party and it will decide whether we will field in our candidate for the PM’s post in the 11th parliament after the election.
 
“I understand everybody wants to be the next prime minister and I am sure all the 50 MPs will be aiming for that,” Hou jokingly told the media.
 
The Hou-led government - Solomon Islands Democratic Coalition for Change Government (SIDCCG) in its last 12 months of leadership have made some results.
 
He said his government had achieved much more than any other government can boast about.
 
“We’ve passed more than 18 legislations in a very short period of time,” he said
 
Hou said without his government, the Anti-Corruption law and the Whistle Blowers Bill would have not passed.
 
“I have been approached by some people to leave these Bills for the dying minutes of the last parliament but with determination I do not want to leave it but to pass it according to the wish of our people,” Hou said.
 
He added that there are other bigger achievements that SIDCCG must be proud of.
 
“We have secured nearly half of the support fund for the upcoming South Pacific Games in 2023, we also secured funds for the upgrading of the Henderson International Airport and many others,” he added.
 
Hou said he would want to see the incoming government continue on with what’s left by his government.

SOURCE: SOLOMON STAR/PACNEWS


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