|New Political Parties gear up for election|
WITH THE countdown to the Solomon Islands’ national elections well underway, there is no way of escaping the booming presence of political parties and their political rhetoric.
With roughly around few months to go to the polling day, the government has yet to announce the exact dates.
But the all too familiar faces of politicians, aspiring and former politicians looking to regain their former glory has become a frequent sight for Solomon Islanders.
The capital Honiara is abuzz with election fever as the political players rush to formalise their allegiances.
The end result being the creation of new political parties springing up all over the capital.
One of the new, bigger parties that has attracted major public attention is Our Party—a collection of eight parliamentarians composing of opposition and independent members, led by the charismatic Manasseh Sogavare.
The party launched itself to an almost capacity crowd at Honiara’s multi-purpose hall in January.
As part of its strategy to gain voter recognition, the party is also launching itself in each of the country’s nine provincial centres with the aim of reclaiming Solomon Islands for Solomon Islanders.
“The Solomon Islands government as an institution of democracy has slowly but systematically drifted away from putting the real needs and aspirations of our people as its priority.
“Instead, it is serving the narrow interests of politics, regionalism and worst of all, foreign interests,” Sogavare said at the party’s launch.
Despite being unceremoniously dumped by his own government colleagues in 2007, Sogavare’s drive to once again claim a third term as prime minister has not diminished.
After serving as Opposition leader for two years, Sogavare’s core supporters from his 2007 government days have remained and they make up the numbers for Our Party.
Sogavare can already see himself back on top again. Our Party has pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to various sectors—should it get into power.
Coincidentally, Our Party’s Honiara launch was staged on Sogavare’s birthday, which he also happened to share with his party deputy, Patterson Oti—in what members say is a good omen for the party.
But Our Party isn’t the only political group to grab the headlines as the election countdown picks up.
On the very same week Our Party launched itself—the Autonomous Solomon Islanders Party (ASIP) went a step further by launching its party live on national radio in a bid to grab the nation’s attention.
The party which is made up of a number of former members of parliament, including Jackson Sunaune, former Prime Minister Solomon Mamaloni’s brother.
The party claims to be patriotic and nationalistic with Sunaone telling radio listeners that this was something ASIP was not apologetic about.
“ASIP’s one fundamental and important belief is believing in Solomon Islanders. This is a very patriotic and nationalistic statement, and if you disagree, then that’s your problem. This is what ASIP is all about.”
The party itself is simple and straight forward, and Sunaune says this can be judged by its 4-point manifesto.
“If there are problems, the onus is on Solomon Islanders to solve it. If we leave the problem in our lands to aliens and outsiders—it’s no wonder we are becoming beggars and strangers in our own land.”
Although it’s still early yet to gauge which party will have the upper hand when the nation goes to the poll, one interesting feature is the use of the media to grab the public’s attention.
Our Party and ASIP’s rise to prominence clearly shows that the 2010 election will be unlike anything before it, with parties and politicians this time around being more strategic in their promotion and awareness campaigns by buying airtime and using the media to promote themselves.
Our Party launched itself after a series of publicity articles in the country’s newspapers and radio, before capping it off with a major press conference.