VEKE ELECTED PREMIER ON GUADALCANAL

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Opponent Naezon allegedly offered cash for support

By Eddie Osifelo HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Dec. 22, 2010) – Anthony Veke is the new premier for Guadalcanal Province.

Mr. Veke polled 14 votes ahead of Walton Naezon who settled for five votes.

Former premier Stephen Panga received two votes.

Speaking to the Solomon Star after his victory, Veke said he was humble to be elected as the new premier.

"I want to thank my members for the trust and confidence vested on me to lead the province in the next four years," he said.

The election went ahead smoothly at Tanagai School, west of Honiara amid allegations of bribery.

Mr. Naezon has rejected claims from supporters of Veke that he promised between SB$11,000 [US$1,300] to SB$15,000 [US$1,800] to lure provincial members to his camp.

Mr. Veke’s supporters also allege Mr. Naezon sought the services of former Guadalcanal militants to round up members and secure their support with large amounts of money.

The group claimed Mr. Naezon was doing this with the backing of Malaysian loggers in the country.

However, Mr. Naezon is denying loggers or ex-militants are involved in his campaign.

He says the allegations have been made up by people who do not want to see change in the province.

Veke said his government will release their policy statement within 100 days in office.

"Briefly my government will like to see Guadalcanal Province united as one people, he said. Also as one of the biggest provinces in the country with huge investment, our government will like to see resource owners partake any developments."

Veke is a teacher by profession.

He was first elected in 2006 for Tangarare ward in South Guadalcanal.

During the last four years, Veke has been serving as member under the Premiership of Salani and Panga.

He held the deputy premier's post in the last three months of Panga's reign after former member Bradley Tovosia won the East Guadalcanal's seat.

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