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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (December 10, 2001 – Radio Australia)---Australia has offered to help prevent any intimidation creeping into the selection of the next Solomon Islands prime minister.

Radio Australia correspondent Sean Dorney reports that a Twin Otter aircraft chartered by Australia is ferrying newly elected members of Parliament into the capital, Honiara, so that they can freely participate in the vote for prime minister next Monday, December the 17th.

"Voters in almost two-thirds of the seats, 32 out of 50, have put in new MPs.

"Observers believe there may have been coercion in one or two seats in rural Guadalcanal and Malaita but that generally the election was free and fair.

"The chairman of the Electoral Commission, Paul Tovua, says there was intimidation when the Parliament elected the prime minister last year. ‘After the coup last year members were intimidated or prevented from coming in there. This time I hope not because there have been a lot more new members.’

"Mr. Tovua says the people have spoken and he has thanked Australia for providing the Twin Otter to ensure the safe passage of the 50 members to the capital.

"Sean Dorney, Radio Australia, Honiara."

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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