Snyder Rini, the new Solomon
Islands prime minister whose election last
week sparked two days of rioting in Honiara,
has resigned this morning after losing vital support in parliament. Rini stepped
down just before lawmakers were due to vote on a motion of no confidence in the
PM, saying it was “so all MPs can come together so this country can go
forward.”

Leading up to the vote, Rini confidently claimed to have
enough support to defeat the motion and hold office. But by this morning,
29 of the 50 lawmakers that make up parliament sat on the opposition benches; two
more are in jail awaiting trial on charges related to last week’s rioting.

This is a clear indication of where the loyalties of a couple of
the members of his party lay, Dr Michael Morgan – deputy director of the
Centre for Democratic Institutions at the Australian
National University
– told Crikey this morning.

Rini, who loosely represents the old guard of Solomon
Islands politics – characterised by money
politics – had clearly lost confidence with some of the floor, says Morgan.

The Solomons’ lawmakers now will have to vote in a secret ballot for a
replacement, with opposition leader Job Dudley Tausinga looking like a favourite for the position.

Tausinga is generally considered to be genuinely
reform-oriented, says Morgan, and at the lesser end of the political corruption
spectrum. But then a lot of the problems plaguing Solomon Islands politics, such as
pork-barrelling, are systemic to the region.

As for what this means for the troubled South Pacific
nation, it will probably ease tension in the short term, says Morgan. But, he adds, the riots
that followed Rini’s election were not chaos, they allowed a whole
lot of grievances to be aired.

And the absence of any loss of life was not accidental. People were targeting economic interests – power bases – not
people, says Morgan. And consequently, they have effectively removed, for the short term, one
of the major grievances.

Peter Fray

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