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Solomon Islands police confident of violence-free vote

AFP  |  Honiara (Solomon Islands) 

The Solomon Islands on Wednesday holds its first election since a major peacekeeping mission to the Pacific nation ended in 2017, with police confident the vote will be violence-free.

The country of 660,000 was wracked by ethnic tensions when the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) intervention began in 2003.

Elections in 2006 sparked rioting in the capital Honiara but two years ago the situation was deemed stable enough for RAMSI to end its operations and hand over security responsibilities to the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force.

The police were once notoriously corrupt but current commissioner Matthew Varley said his revamped force was ready to ensure the election was trouble free.

He said some 1,600 officers would patrol polling booths nationwide, backed by logistical support from the Australian and New Zealand military, including six helicopters.

"The feedback received from the people, especially in the communities, is that they want to see political change but not political violence," he said.

More than 300 candidates will contest 50 parliamentary seats in the first-past-the-post election.

Most voters live in small rural communities and personal allegiances sway voters more than political parties, making elections difficult to predict.

Results of the election are not expected to be known for several days as they trickle in from far-flung island electorates.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, April 01 2019. 13:10 IST