The Solomon Islands parliament supported Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare’s proposal on Thursday and voted to postpone the national elections until 2024, according to media reports.
The parliament voted in a session to postpone the elections until the Pacific Games in November of next year, ABC News reported.
Sogavare said ahead of the parliament session that he needs to delay the elections until after the Pacific Games in late 2023 because his country does not have the financial resources to hold two major events in the same year.
The Solomon Islands prime minister mocked Australia while declaring he will take up the government’s offer to help fund the next national elections – but only after his country had voted to push it back, according to the media outlet.
“They’ve offered now, so you get ready, brother, to fund the costs. It’s a big cost, Mr Speaker, the Electoral Commission needs a lot of money,” he added.
In response to Australia’s offer to assist the South Pacific island nation in holding general elections, Solomon Islands government on Tuesday described such offers as a foreign intervention aimed at influencing parliamentary proceedings.
The strong-worded statement came on the same day after Australia’s Foreign Minister Senator Penny Wong revealed that her government had recently made an “offer of assistance” to Solomon Islands in order to help the country hold general elections next year.
The Solomon Islands government, however, reacted sharply, saying in a statement, “This is an assault on our parliamentary democracy and is a direct interference by a foreign government into our domestic affairs.”
It added that the timing of the Australian government’s announcement is “inappropriate.”
Solomon Islands already signed a security agreement with China in April, which drew criticism from New Zealand, Australia and their allies, including the US and Japan.
Also, China is renegotiating a regional security and trade deal with 10 Pacific nations, which fell short of signing in May.