7 Aug 2010

Former militia leader makes it into Solomon Islands parliament

10:56 am on 7 August 2010

A once notorious Malaitan militia leader, who was recently released from jail, has made it into the Solomon Islands parliament.

That comes as a number of veteran politicians have been defeated as counting continues in the election.

Jo O'Brien reports from Solomon Islands.

"The former Malaitan Eagle Force Commander Jimmy Lusibaea has captured the seat of North Malaita with almost four times the number of votes as his nearest challenger. SIBC reports the businessman, who was known as Jimmy Rasta during the tensions, is the highest profile new MP so far in this election. Mr Lusibaea, who was recently released from jail after serving five years for robbery, has ousted the sitting MP Daniel Kwanairara. He was also convicted on a charge of grievous bodily harm in 2005.In other notable results deputy prime minister Fred Fono has been ousted, while the defeat of OUR party member Patteson Oti has also been confirmed. His supporters are reported to have damaged a counting station and looted a shop in reaction to his defeat. Other well-known losers so far include Finance Minister Francis Billy Hilly, and deputy speaker Clement Kengava. The Commonwealth election observer group in Solomon Islands has released its interim report into the national election, which has found the poll was conducted in an orderly manner despite some voting irregularities and a flawed voter list. The report says the list was originally compiled in 1996 and has not been effectively revised since then, so it is badly inflated, with names added to it, while outdated names have not been removed. It says the 10 day time period for people to update their details on the list was too short. The Commonwealth head Arthur Donahoe says there were also a few minor irregularities. In a number of polling stations, the booths were set out backwards so that the open end was to the main part of the room and in two polls we observed there was no booth at all and voters were casting their ballots on an open table, this gives an opportunity for breaches of the secrecy of the ballot.Arthur Donahoe says the counting process has been thorough, but has proceeded with the speed of a glacier.