The Solomon Islands community in the Vanuatu capital of Port Vila over the weekend met with the Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare and his delegation and raised a number of issues it wants the Solomon Islands Government to address.
These include the establishment of a honorary consul in Vanuatu, establishment of a trust fund for the repatriation of Solomon Islanders who die in Vanuatu back home to Solomon Islands for burial and the introduction of postal election voting in Solomon Islands to enable Solomon Islanders living abroad to participate in national general elections and dual citizenship.
The Solomon Islands community said it would be good for Solomon Islands to establish the honorary consul in Vanuatu to look after the welfare of Solomon Islanders living there and urged the Solomon Islands Government to seriously look into this matter.
On the proposal for the establishment of a trust fund for the repatriation of Solomon Islanders who die in Vanuatu back to Solomon Islands for burial, the Solomon Islands community highlighted the difficulties encountered when a Solomon Islander died there and had to send the body back to Solomon Islands for burial.
Members of the Solomon Islands Community who spoke on the issue expressed that the establishment of a trust fund would be helpful when faced with such situation.
As to the issue of postal voting, the Solomon Islands community said the number of Solomon Islanders living abroad is continuing to rise and like any Solomon Islands community in any other country, its members would like to participate in the country’s national general elections and the Solomon Islands Government should by now consider the introduction of postal voting.
On dual citizenship, the Solomon Islands community said the introduction of dual citizenship by Solomon Islands would be a welcome move especially for Solomon Islands citizens married to foreign nationals and their children.
In response the Prime Minister Sogavare acknowledged the issues raised and explained the Democratic Coalition for Change Government’s position on them.
On the establishment of an honorary consul in Vanuatu, the Prime Minister said the government will look into the matter but in the meantime the Solomon Islands High Commissioner to Fiji His Excellency Patterson Oti is accredited to Vanuatu and any issues of the Solomon Islands community in Vanuatu requiring government attention will have to be channeled through him.
On issues of repatriation of deceased Solomon Islanders in Vanuatu back to Solomon Islands for burial, the Prime Minister said the responsibility of repatriating the dead body of any Solomon Islands citizen who died abroad lies with the Solomon Islands Government and the Solomon Islands Government should be informed should such a situation arise.
As to the issue of postal voting, the Prime Minister said the Democratic Coalition for Change Government is working to introduce postal voting at the next national general elections to enable Solomon Islanders studying and working abroad to exercise their right to vote.
On the issue of dual citizenship, Prime Minister Sogavare said it is an important agenda that the Democratic Coalition for Change Government is working to introduce.
The meeting concluded with a luncheon sponsored by the Solomon Islands Community.
The Prime Minister was on a five-day visit of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Secretariat in Vila in his capacity as the Chair of the sub-regional grouping.
He and his nine member delegation arrived back in the country on Sunday.
– PM’s Press Secretariat