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By Koroi Hawkins, RNZ Pacific editor

Former opposition leader Matthew Wale has been announced as the second prime ministerial candidate ahead of the election in Solomon Islands tomorrow.

He will face off against former foreign affairs minister Jeremiah Manele, who was announced by the Coalition for National Unity and Transformation on Monday.

As far as RNZ Pacific was aware, Manele and Wale were the only two prime ministerial candidates that have been publicly announced.

However, candidate nominations could also be submitted quietly, so until the Governor-General announced the total number of candidates, RNZ Pacific could not rule out the possibility that there could be at least one more horse in the race.

Wale’s coalition, which had yet to be named, resembled the opposition group in the last Parliament, and was made up of his own Democratic Party, the United Party, the Party for Rural Advancement, the Umi for Change Party and the Democratic Alliance Party.

A head count of a group photo provided by the coalition showed they had 20 MPs.

On the other hand, Manele’s coalition, which was effectively the incumbent government, was made up of MPs from Our Party, People’s First Party and the Kadere Party.

Enough to form government
Their group photo showed 28 MPs which was more than enough to form government if they could hold onto them through the intense lobbying anticipated over the next 48 hours.

Included in Manele’s camp were a host of newly elected independent MPs, many of whom campaigned on a platform for change, unseating half of the incumbent Our Party MPs only to replenish their ranks.

In a statement marking his nomination, Wale appealed to these independents.

“The people of Solomon Islands have voted overwhelmingly for change from DCGA & Our Party. I therefore urge all newly elected independents, who were voted in on a mandate for change, to join us,” Wale said.

“This is the people’s clear wish.”

Nominations for prime ministerial candidates closed at 4pm yesterday, and the election of the prime minister will be held at 9.30am local time tomorrow.

It will be presided over by the Governor-General, Sir David Vunagi, and conducted by secret ballot.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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