Solomon Islands’ Pro-China Leader Sogavare Exits PM Race, ABC Reports

(Bloomberg) -- Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has withdrawn from consideration for another term as leader after his ruling party failed to win a majority in elections, in a potential blow to China’s growing ties with the Pacific nation.

Most Read from Bloomberg

Sogavare will be replaced by Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele as the Ownership, Unity and Responsibility Party’s candidate for prime minister, the two men announced at a press conference. However, it is unclear if Manele will have enough support among lawmakers when they gather to select a new leader.

Sogavare said his time as prime minister had been personally difficult, including attacks on his character and family. “It has not been easy,” he told reporters.

Read more: Pro-China Solomons Leader Fails to Win a Majority at Election

Lawmakers are due to meet in the capital Honiara on Thursday for the first vote on who should be the next prime minister. Sogavare’s party only won 15 out of a potential 50 seats in parliamentary elections held in April, while opposition parties have formed a coalition of 20 lawmakers. That leaves a group of about 10 independents as potential kingmakers in deciding the next government.

Sogavare’s departure is likely to be a relief for officials in the US and Australia who were concerned at the Pacific nation’s shift closer to Beijing.

The Solomon Islands switched its diplomatic recognition to China from Taiwan in 2019. But the biggest development came in 2022 when it was announced that Sogavare had signed a controversial security pact with China, provoking alarm in Washington and Canberra.

Some opposition candidates for prime minister have raised the possibility of renewing closer ties with Taiwan and re-examining the security pact with China.

--With assistance from Michael Sin.

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.