EARLY ELECTION RETURNS POSITIVE FOR OUSTED SOLOMONS GOVERNMENT

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (December 6, 2001 – SIBC/Solomon Star/PINA Nius Online)---The Solomon Islands Alliance for Change (SIAC) government -- ousted in last year's Honiara coup crisis -- has made significant gains in early results in the general elections.

As counting for the 50-seat parliament continued at election centres across the country, so far without major incident:

* Bartholomew Ulufa'alu, the SIAC prime minister forced to resign during last June's coup, scored a landslide win in his Aoke/Langalanga seat in Malaita Province.

* Fred Fono, another SIAC leader and considered by some to be a future national leader, easily won the Central Kwara'ae seat, also in Malaita Province.

* And another SIAC member, Simeon Bouro, beat Charles Dausabea in the much-watched contest for the East Honiara seat. Dausabea was a strongman of the Manasseh Sogavare-led government, which came to power in a parliamentary vote after the takeover of Honiara by the Malaita Eagle Force militia and elements of the paramilitary police field force.

* In Central Honiara, SIAC's Mesach Maetoloa defeated a Sogavare Government Minister, Moon Pin Kwan, in one of the first results declared.

* In West Honiara, independent Yukio Sato, a prominent businessman and naturalized citizen of Japanese descent, won the seat after ignoring threats for him to withdraw or face harm.

The general election is the first following the Townsville Peace Agreement, which ended two years of ethnic conflict. It comes as the country faces financial crisis, an economy in nosedive and continuing law and order problems.

Final results from outer island polling centers are not expected until Saturday.

MPs will then come to Honiara to elect the prime minister, who will form the new government.

In an editorial comment today headlined "The Person Who Should Be Our PM," the Solomon Star newspaper said:

"Whoever this new Prime Minister is, he or she will be the person who will spearhead this nation. It will not be easy. It will be very difficult.

"The new Prime Minister will formulate many rescue packages, some immediately, others will take some time.

"This Prime Minister must not allow friends, relatives or Tom, Dick and Harry to enter the Prime Minister's Office at any time.

"This Prime Minister must not accept bribes from outsiders for their own ends. The public will not tolerate this.

"This new Prime Minister must have only one legally-established adviser, the Attorney-General. No nonsense business in choosing an outside friend as legal adviser.

"This is the Solomon Islands and previous governments have allowed all this to happen. This has helped wreck the country's economy.

"We need a person of integrity. We need a person who is strict and does not bend rules.

"We need a leader who is fair to all citizens of the Solomon Islands. We want a leader who does not have black stains to his or her name or character.

"We want a leader who has a vision for the Solomon Islands. We do not want a leader who will spend much of the time traveling overseas.

"We have overseas representatives out there who can deal with issues relevant to the Solomon Islands. Millions of dollars have already been spent on fruitless trips overseas.

"We want a leader who is here and can discuss issues with the Cabinet or members of the Opposition.

"We want to rebuild the Solomon Islands, its economy, its image overseas, its services. Everything.

"We want a working leader, who can get things done in time.

"Once we have a leader with these qualities, the public, business houses and the rest will work to support the government in nation building."

For additional reports from the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation.

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

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