UNDP Supports Solomon Islands Electoral Commission

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Registration for 2014 elections to begin this year

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, March 3, 2013) – Deputy Prime Minister Manasseh Maelanga yesterday welcomed a multimillion dollar assistance towards electoral reforms in Solomon Islands.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) announced the funding after it signed an agreement with the government on Thursday.

The assistance is expected to boost government’s effort to ensure fair elections and improve the effectiveness of Parliament.

The project, which seeks to address four key areas before, during and after the 2014 elections will be implemented by UNDP.

"This assistance is timely as the government, particularly, the Electoral Commission is making vital preparations ahead of the 2014 national general elections," Mr Maelanga said.

Following a request made by the Chairman of the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission (SIEC), a UN Needs Assessment Mission visited the Solomon Islands last year.

Working closely together, the SIEC, Ministry of Home Affairs, UNDP, European Union and AusAID together designed the current electoral assistance project.

A statement from UNDP said one of the main areas of focus is to assist in the development of a sustainable, cost effective and inclusive voter registration system.

Voter registration is expected to take place this year, through the SIEC.

The voter roll used in the 2010 election indicated needs for improvement.

Multiple registrations and limited deletion of deceased citizens have reportedly inflated voter numbers.

"As the primary means through which people express their preferences and choose their representatives, elections are a powerful democratic governance tool of voice, accountability and, ultimately, human development," UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Knut Ostby, who recently visited Honiara, said.

"UNDP is pleased to provide electoral assistance to the Solomon Islands to ensure free and fair elections in 2014," he added.

The project will also focus on ensuring the design and implementation of more efficient and effective administrative procedures through capacity building of SIEC.

The project will also help strengthen the legal capacity of the SIEC, aiming at supporting electoral and legal reform.

A strong civic education component also exists in the project.

This seeks to ensure that national authorities and civil society organizations are better able to conduct voter and civic education activities for the population.

The project, Strengthening the Electoral Cycle in the Solomon Islands, will run until 2015, and has total funding of over US$8.9 million (SBD$65 million), in a partnership with the European Union and a planned partnership with AusAID.

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