A Push Too Far

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Solomon Islands’ pro-China leader withdrew his bid to remain as prime minister two weeks after the country’s national election dealt him significant losses, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

His decision marked the end of an era for the Solomon Islands, where lawmakers will elect a new prime minister on Thursday, the news outlet wrote.

During his most recent four-year term – Sogavare has served four but none consecutively – China’s influence increased more in the country than anywhere else in the South Pacific.

He switched the country’s foreign policy from Taiwan to China and severed diplomatic ties with Taipei in 2019, sparking protests in the capital of Honiara and calls for him to step down. Then, in 2022, he signed a controversial deal with Beijing that received criticism from the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

These moves placed the 750,000 Pacific nation at the center of the race for regional influence between the United States and China.

Sogavare managed to stay in power through violent riots in 2021 amid demands for his resignation. However, in this year’s April 17 national election, his party lost more than half of its seats.

With only 15 members of parliament remaining, Sogavare’s OUR Party will need allies to succeed in appointing one of its own, former Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele as prime minister.

In the Solomon Islands’ 50-seat parliament, a majority of 26 lawmakers is required for a prime ministerial candidate to win.

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