SOON after the by-election for the Gizo/Kolombangra Constituency was announced, voters rose from their three years of political snoozing and commenced their support and campaign for their candidates.
Four men and one woman are contesting the by-election.
Whoever wins will represent the voters and people of Gizo/Kolombangra for only seven months before the National General Election is due around March or April 2019.
It seems that voters have already made up their minds weeks ago who they would vote for on 23rd May.
And interestingly no one is expecting their candidate to come in second or third!
The voters are predicting their candidate will cross over the line and become their next Member of Parliament.
But there is one thing so far that is pretty obvious.
The supporters and voters of the former PM, Gordon Darcy Lilo (GDL), have become so vocal over the weeks in support of GDL.
They have good reason for doing so. Or I should rather say to worry about in the by-election.
I should point out it has nothing to do with GDL or other candidates.
However, it has to do with our election history.
Firstly, our election history is biased against those that previously lost their seats. Over the last decade or so only two persons were able to stage a political come-back.
One was Danny Philip who beat the incumbent in the National General Election of 2010 after two previous attempts in 2001 (when he lost) and in 2006.
The other was Japheth Waipora.
Waipora’s come-back was slightly different from that of Danny Philip.
After he lost his seat in Central Makira in 2001, Waipora relocated to West Makira and staged his come-back in 2006.
He would have lost in 2006 if he contested in Central Makira for sure!
There are many former MPs who had tried over the years but were not able to be successful. There are too many to list, but to give some examples, let us render some here.
The late Sethuel Kelly of South Guadalcanal tried many times to stage a come-back but was never successful.
In addition, Michael Maina of Temotu Pele tried few times but the voters there rejected him and opted for other candidates.
Likewise, in the Ulawa/Ugi Constituency, the former Governor-General, Nathaniel Waena, tried to return to politics but was unsuccessful.
He finally decided to stick to party politics and today looks after his favourite PAP as their president.
Similarly, since his defeated in the past, Gordon Mara had made many attempts but the voters in Ngella had decided to vote in someone else.
Not so surprisingly even in GDL’s own constituency of Gizo/Kolombangra the previous MP, Jackson Piasi, made several attempts to return to politics but each time he was defeated by GDL.
Other provinces and constituencies have similar election histories but I guess the above gives snap shots of what is like to attempt a political come-back in our country.
There is also another election history that makes GDL’s voters so vocal.
Since his unexpected defeat in the 2014 National General Election, GDL joins a number of ex-PMs who had lost their seats in national elections.
He joins the likes of Sir Allen Kemakeza and my own grand uncle, Rt. Hon. Ezekiel Alebua, to name a few.
These former PMs had also made several attempts to return to politics.
For example, the most recent one was the late Sir Peter Kenilorea in the NGE of 2014 in one of the AreAre Constituencies of Malaita Province.
The political histories of these former PMs are similar to that of GDL.
They had been in Parliament for several terms.
GDL lost in the 2014 National General Election after 12 years as an MP. He went into the election as care-taker PM.
In contrast to GDL’s 12 years in politics, other PMs they had more years in politics.
Most had over two decades in Parliament. They were house-hold names both in their own constituencies and in the country.
They lost in every election that they had contested and have never regained their seats ever since!
I should point out that late Sir Peter Kenilorea resigned to take up another prestigious job and late Solomon Mamaloni and Bart Ulufa’alu died while were still MPs for their constituencies.
Given the above, the Gizo/Kolombangra by-election is an important election.
It is an election either to keep the status quo intact as stated above or to break from that history and re-make GDL political come-back.
GDL is a smart and gifted politician.
He knows history is not on his side so will fight to make his own history.
In the end whilst GDL has employed all he could to break this election history, his four opponents and supporters are deploying their own strategies every week until the election to ensure the status quo is upheld, making this by-election a very important one indeed!
Fingers crossed everyone!
*By Andrew Donua Muaki
*Andrew Donua Muaki is a lawyer by training and a political commentator by interest. He is a native of Makira Province but currently resides in Australia. You can follow him on his Facebook page or contact him through [email protected]