Jeremiah Manele has been elected prime minister of Solomon Islands polling 31 votes to 18 over rival candidate and former opposition leader Mathew Wale with no abstentions.

The final result of the election by secret ballot was annouced by the Governor General Sir David Vunagi on the steps of parliament a short time ago.

Going into the vote Manele’s camp had claimed the support of 28 MPs while Wale’s camp said they had 20. RNZ Pacific understands at least two MPs were not able to make it back to the capital in time for the prime ministerial election.

Manele’s victory signals a return of the incumbent government formerly headed by Manasseh Sogavare.

Manele’s administration which calls itself the Government for National Unity and Transformation is made up of three parties. Manele’s own Our Party is the largest followed by Manasseh Maelanga’s People’s First Party and Jamie Vokia’s Kandere Party.

Collectively the parties came out of the election with 19 MPs but have added nine more to their ranks. We will know which MPs have joined what parties once the registrar of political parties updates its political party membership lists.

In the lead up to the election prime minister Jeremiah Manele and his coalition partners were working on merging their policy priorities into a 100 day plan which they are expected to announce to the public in the coming days.

Once Manele has sorted the compostion of his cabinet he will notify the Governor General to set a date for the first sitting of parliament during which all 50 members of parliament will be sworn in and Sir David Vunagi will deliver the speech from the throne, the traditional opening address to parliament.

Jeremiah Manele who turns 56 this year is the member of parliament for Hograno Kia Havulei in Isabel Province.

He is the country’s first ever prime minister from Isabel where his home village is Samasodu.

Manele served as minister of foreign affairs in the last government and ran in this election under the Our Party Banner however he has previously been affiliated with the Democratic Alliance Party.

He was first elected to parliament in 2014 and was the leader of the opposition in the country’s 10th Parliament. He has also previously served as the minister for development planning and aid coordination in the 11th Parliament.

Prior to entering parliament Manele was a longserving public servant and diplomate representing the country as Charge de Affairs of the Solomon Islands Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Papua New Guinea and a Certificate in Foreign Service and International Relations from Oxford University.