Former diplomat Jeremiah Manele elected as new Solomon Islands prime minister

Former diplomat Jeremiah Manele elected as new Solomon Islands prime minister
  • PublishedMay 2, 2024

Jeremiah Manele has been elected as the new prime minister of Solomon Islands.

Mr Manele served as foreign minister under former prime minister Manasseh Sogavare, who announced earlier this week he would withdraw from the race for the top job.

The new prime minister defeated former opposition leader Matthew Wale in a vote of 31 to 18.

Mr Manele has flagged that he will continue to maintain close ties with China, although he’s expected to take a less confrontational approach to Australia than his predecessor.

A man in glass and a suit at a lectern with a green marble background.
Jeremiah Manele is a former foreign minister and diplomat for Solomon Islands. (Supplied: United Nations)

He told journalists outside parliament house in Honiara that he was honoured to be elected to the position, saying it was a historic moment for his electorate.

“I will discharge my duties diligently and with integrity. I will at all times put the interests of our people and country above all other interests,” Mr Manele said.

Hundreds of police and army personnel from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Papua New Guinea remain in Solomon Islands in the wake of elections last month to help preserve the peace.

Honiara has been periodically rocked by unrest and rioting — most recently in late 2021 — and the new prime minister appealed for calm.

“Past prime minister elections have been marked by acts of violence and destruction. Our economies and livelihoods have suffered because of this violence,” he said.

“However, today we show the world that we are better than that. We must respect and uphold the democratic process … and set an example for our children and their children.”

Mr Manele also flagged that he may need to revise the Solomon Islands budget, and said his country still faced stiff economic challenges.

“The recovery of the global economy is steady but slow. We as a country continue on the recovery path after the COVID-19 global pandemic and 2021 riots,” he said.

“The recent report by the Central Bank on the state of our economy is concerning, and calls for a most focused and aggressive approach.”

In an interview with the ABC yesterday, Mr Manele flagged his government would prioritise infrastructure, and investment in forestry, the minerals sector, fisheries, agriculture, and tourism.

Australia, China ‘equally important’

Mr Manele told the ABC that Australia and China were “equally” important international partners for Solomon Islands.

He said he would pursue a foreign policy of “friends to all, enemies to none”.

“We will continue to work with all our partners managing our relations, and ensuring that Solomons’ interests, especially development interests, are taken on board,” Mr Manele said.

Two men in suits facing each other, with two men clapping in front of flags in the background.
Jeremiah Manele, then Solomon Islands’ foreign minister, with China’s foreign minister Wang Yi during a ceremony held in 2019 in Beijing.(AFP: Thomas Peter)

When asked whether his government would keep Solomon Islands’ 2022 security pact with China in place, he said: “In terms of foreign policy, yes, that agreement is there. If there is a need to review that, it will be a matter for China and Solomon Islands to discuss”.

Mr Manele was foreign minister when Solomon Islands switched its diplomatic relations from Taiwan to China in 2019.

He entered parliament in 2014, and is from Isabel province — a factor said to be appealing for MPs reluctant to elect politicians from Western province or Malaita as prime minister.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *