Solomons vote count now underway
The vote count is underway following the election on Wednesday in Solomon Islands, first preliminary results possibly available tonight.
The counting of votes is now underway as life in Solomon Islands begins to return to normal after the election yesterday.
There was a delay to the start of counting and Don Wiseman asked Koroi Hawkins why this had happened.
KOROI HAWKINS: It was basically a change in the organisation. Usually they start counting straight away after the polling closes and they can get the ballot boxes to the centres for counting but this year they said they've decided to give a 12 hour lay-over period overnight to get all the ballot boxes to the provincial centres and give officials a chance to get organised so counting all around the country started at 8am this morning.
DON WISEMAN: Did voting finish on time right around the country?
KH: Yes, they were very strict, anyone in the polling station was allowed to continue with their voting but anyone arriving after that basically the counting stopped all around the country at exactly 5 o'clock and the chief electoral officer stressed the importance of that and even made a public call in the hour before closing for anybody who wasn't at the polling station to be getting there as soon as possible so yeah it basically closed at the same time everywhere.
DW: When are you expecting the first preliminary results to be coming through?
KH: They were saying late this evening or early tomorrow morning. I just spoke with the electoral office now before coming on and they said that there's no results yet, counting is going well everywhere and so far there are no preliminary results. They estimated three days for the whole country to get all the official results in but the local media I understand are hoping they can get some preliminary results by this evening or early tomorrow morning.
DW: Well, it was a public holiday on election day but it is back to work for everyone today. There is an alcohol ban in place and that remains in place for today. That's unusual isn't it?
KH: It sounds unusual, I understand, but for Solomon Islands the excitement really starts once the results start coming in and people, especially losing candidates, start kicking up a fuss about results or complaining about it. So the Police Commissioner Frank Prendergast has called for calm in the counting days and when the results come out he is calling for political candidates and their supporters to respect the process - to respect the election process and to bring in any objections they have to the results to the courts in the election petitions and not to take the law into their own hands and do anything silly so that is sort of why the alcohol ban is still in place and police are so far really happy with the situation so far. But as I said, once results start coming in and we go into the lobbying for the Government forming period and the election of the Prime Minister, things should get a bit more exciting here in Solomon Islands and the police are just hoping it is a good excitement and not a bad one.
DW: When they ban alcohol, does that mean bars have to close down, how does that work?
KH: Any legal outlet is closed. I am not sure how it applies to hotels and their guests but I am sure that all the legal outlets are closed. Having said that, there are plenty of other avenues for people to access alcohol, it is just that if they are caught with it they are arrested or they get their alcohol taken off them and police also search vehicles along the road and take out any alcohol opened or unopened.
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