The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP

Media Release

FA030 - 30 March 2006

Australian Monitors to Observe Free and Fair Solomon Islands Election

I am pleased to announce that Australia will send a 10 member observer delegation to monitor the Solomon Islands national election to be held on 5 April 2006.

The Australian delegation will be led by Senator Marise Payne, and will comprise MPs Bob Sercombe and Michael Ferguson, former Queensland Electoral Commissioner, Bob Longland, and six experienced officials from the Departments of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Defence and AusAID.

This will be the first time Solomon Islanders have gone to polls since the arrival of the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) in 2003 and the restoration of law and order.

RAMSI, in partnership with the Solomon Islands Government, has also helped stabilise the country's economy and rebuild the functions of government to enhance its capacity to deliver basic services to the Solomon Islands people.

An integral part of the RAMSI mission is the $1.77 million Civic Education program, which has encouraged Solomon Islanders at a village level to embrace their democratic rights in electing responsible and accountable leaders.

Australia is also providing $1.6 million in assistance to the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission to help them conduct a free and fair election.

The Australian observer delegation will join other international observer teams from New Zealand, Japan, the USA, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. The UN Electoral Assistance Division will coordinate the consolidated international observer effort.

Australia is pleased to play a part in building a strong democracy in Solomon Islands. As part of the international observer group, the delegation's objectives are to observe the elections and to provide constructive recommendations to further strengthen the democratic processes of our Pacific neighbour.

Australia's total Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Solomon Islands in 2005-06 is estimated at $247 million.

Media Inquiries: Mr Downer's office 02 6277 7500 - Departmental Media Liaison 02 6261 1555

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