Sunday, May 19, 2024

Vote of confidence for Solomon Islands election support

A New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) contingent of more than 200 personnel has been providing logistical support to Solomon Islands, on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, as the country geared up for today’s general election.

Prior to election day, the NZDF’s Joint Task Force delivered more than 100 polling kits and more than 250 ballot boxes, and transported election officials to dozens of locations throughout Solomon Islands – including remote areas – to ensure that those who want to vote have an opportunity to do so.

The team’s work is scheduled to wrap up once ballot boxes have been collected and taken to counting centres.

Solomon Islands is comprised of six main islands and more than 900 smaller islands covering a total area of nearly 29,000km2, making it logistically challenging to ensure everyone has access and a fair chance to vote.

Two of the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s No. 3 Squadron helicopters, combined with the ability to conduct flying operations from on board HMNZS Canterbury, has been invaluable for navigating those logistical challenges.

Major Matt Wall is the NZDF Liaison Officer embedded with Solomon Islands’ Electoral Commission based in Honiara, where his duties included co-ordinating logistics for the general election.

“There are people from all walks of life, representing a number of different organisations and countries, who have come together to ensure the elections are a success, and it is a privilege to be a part of,” Major Wall said.

“Working closely with Solomon Islands’ Electoral Commission and the New Zealand High Commission here in Honiara has been a fantastic experience, both professionally and personally.

“Logistically, it is incredibly challenging, but we have teamed together to ensure everyone in Solomon Islands – even in the most remote villages – has an opportunity to cast their vote.”

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