Solomon Islands Caretaker Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare, has passed on the leadership of the Parliamentary Wing of OUR Party to Prime Ministerial candidate, Jeremiah Manele.

Speaking at a press briefing Monday night, Sogavare announced his decision to hand over the reins to Manele, who currently serves as the Member of Parliament elect for Hograno/Kia/Katova/Havulei.

“It is with great honor and privilege that I now transfer the leadership to the Ownership, Unity, and Responsibility Party Parliamentary Wing Leader and the Coalition for National Unity and Transformation(CNUT) candidate for Prime Minister, Jeremiah Manele”, stated Sogavare.

“Manele was a career public servant rising up through the ranks of the public service and was once upon a time secretary to the prime minister before assuming elected office.

“He last held the senior position of minister of foreign affairs and external trade in the last government.

“He has been groomed for this position,” said Sogovare

Accepting the nomination, Manele emphasised the importance of unity and stability, emphasising that they are not merely abstract concepts but the very foundation upon which nations are built.

He stressed that unity fosters a sense of belonging among citizens.

“I am able and willing to carry this awesome responsibility in leading our nation forward.

“I am well aware of the challenges and I know that at times it can be burdensome and lonely; but I am confident that I am comforted by the sound policies that we have and the solidarity in our coalition,” he said.

During an emotional moment, Sogavare reflected on the challenges faced by his family over the past years, including targeted attacks against his children.

Sogavare, a stalwart leader within the OUR Party, has been previously described as a master of navigating turbulent political waters.

He expressed confidence in the coalition party’s prospects for the upcoming 02 May PM elections.

Sogavare’s term as Prime Minister will come to an end once the new Prime Minister is elected on 2nd May.

A prime minister needs the support of at least 26 lawmakers in the 50-seat chamber.

Sogavare had hoped to become the first Solomons prime minister to maintain power in consecutive four-year terms following the 17 April election. During his previous term, China’s influence increased more in the Solomons than anywhere else in the South Pacific.

He switched diplomatic allegiances from Taiwan to Beijing and struck a secret security pact that has raised fears of the Chinese navy gaining a foothold in the region.

Sogavare’s Ownership, Unity and Responsibility Party, known as the Our Party, won 15 seats in the election, more than any other party.

Observers expect China to have secretly backed more candidates than Sogavare at the election in a bid to ensure the government change does not diminish Beijing’s influence.

Sogavare could again return to power during the current four-year term. He was elected prime minister after the last election in 2019. But he has served as prime minister three times before 2019 because his predecessors had quit or were ousted by fellow lawmakers in a precarious political system.