SOLOMONS OBSERVERS MAY STAY ON FOR PM VOTE

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (December 4, 2001 - Solomon Star/PINA Nius Online)---Some of the international election observer teams in the Solomon Islands are now seeking to stay on for the vote for prime minister as well as tomorrow's general elections.

Reports say some civil society organizations appealed to the observer missions to prolong their stay to ensure there's no intimidation in the lead up to the prime ministerial vote.

Sean Dorney, the highly respected Radio Australia correspondent who is now in Solomon Islands, reported:

"Some members of the Australian observer team intend to remain in the Solomons for the fortnight after Wednesday's election because of concerns that if there's going to be intimidation it's more likely to happen during the formation of the government than at the ballot box.

"New Zealand's team leader, Chris Carter, says he's asked Wellington to let some of his observers do the same."

Carter was reported as expressing concern that in the last election for Solomon Islands prime minister, following last year's coup in Honiara, some MPs could not reach Honiara in time for the vote.

Intimidation also reportedly took place.

Carter is the Junior Whip in the New Zealand government. He was also an international observer in South Africa's first multiracial general elections.

Carter said it would be useful to have international observers around in key areas during the critical stages of the election of the prime minister and formation of the government.

During meetings with local organisations some observers had pointed out that the invitation from the Solomon Islands government only covered their observing tomorrow's voting.

It did not include their staying on to observe the election of the prime minister and formation of the government, they said.

But there have been repeated requests, especially from civil society organizations, for observers to also be in the country for the formation of the government.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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