Supporters of the former East Makira MP Charles Maefai have voted to return their late MP’s wife to be their next representative in parliament.
Lillian Maefai registered a historic by-election win in the East Makira constituency, becoming the third woman to be elected to the current parliament and setting a new record for women’s representation in the 50-member house.
According to results the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission released early yesterday, Maefai polled 3,371 votes – over 2000 more than her nearest rival, Alfred Ghiro.
For the chief electoral officer Mose Saitala, the by-election itself was already special as it was the first time the commission had trialled simultaneously running a provincial election alongside a national by-election, he said.
Saitala said to get such a historic result was the icing on the cake.
“We have elected for the first time the third woman into the national parliament. So we are having three sitting women MPs for the very first time in the parliament. So that is a very, very satisfying result,” he said.
The East Makira by-election was called after the sudden death, in July, of Charles Maefai, a first time MP who had only been elected three months earlier.
Saitala said he understands arrangements are being made to try and get Lillian Maefai to return to Honiara from her constituency sometime in the next few days so that she can be sworn in on the floor of parliament before it adjourns for the year.
The other women MPs in the current parliament are Freda Soriacomua, the MP for Temotu Vatud, and Lanelle Tanangada, the MP for Gizo Kolombangara.
In the 41 years since the country gained its independence from Britain, Lillian Maefai is only the fifth woman to be elected to the country’s parliament.
The first woman to be elected was Hilda Kari representing North East Guadalcanal in the 1980s.
There was not a second until 2012 when Vika Lusibaea won the by-election for North Malaita, a seat left vacant after her husband Jimmy Lusibaea was convicted of a criminal offence.
Lillian Maefai, who hails from Kwai island in east Malaita, previously worked within the Solomon Star’s Advertising Department.
Her late husband was also a former employee of the Solomon Star, having worked at within the newspaper’s Accounts Section.
The couple left the paper more than 10 years ago to venture into small business generating projects.
- Lillian Mafane Maefai: 3,371
- Alfred Ghiro:1,196
- Rose Murray: 644
- Tiks Tauni: 590
- Martin Karani: 466
- Thomas Bea: 309
- Casper Tai: 269
- Steven Piringisau: 227
- Henry Quasiki: 181