A third woman MP has been elected in Solomon Islands.
Lillian Maefai registered an historic by-election win in the East Makira constituency, becoming the third woman to be elected to the current parliament and setting a new record for women’s representation in the 50 member house.
According to results released by the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission, early on Saturday morning, Mrs Maefai polled 3371 votes – over 2000 more than her nearest rival, Alfred Ghiro.
For the Solomon Islands chief electoral officer Mose Saitala, the by-election itself was already special as it was the first time the commission had trialled simultaneously running a provincial election alongside a national by-election, he said.
Mr Saitala said then to get such an historic result was the icing on the cake.
“We have elected for the first time the third woman into the national parliament. So we are having three sitting women MPs for the very first time in the Solomon Islands parliament. So that is a very, very satisfying result,” he said.
The East Makira by-election was called after the sudden death, in July, of Mrs Maefai’s late husband, Charles Maefai, a first time MP who had only been elected three months earlier.
Mr Saitala said he understands arrangements are being made to try and get Lillian Maefai to return to the capital Honiara from her constituency sometime in the next few days so that she can be sworn in on the floor of parliament before it adjourns for the year.
The other women MPs in Solomon Islands current parliament are Freda Soriacomua, the MP for Temotu Vatud, and Lanelle Tanangada, the MP for Gizo Kolombangara.
In the 41 years since Solomon Islands gained its independence from Britain, Lillian Maefai is only the fifth woman to be elected to the country’s parliament.
The first woman to be elected in Solomon Islands was Hilda Kari representing North East Guadalcanal in the 1980s. There was not a second until 2012 when Vika Lusibaea won the by-election for North Malaita, a seat left vacant after her husband Jimmy Lusibaea was convicted of a criminal offence.