Solomon Islands’ newly elected MP, Lilly Maefai, has been sworn in on the floor of Parliament today.
Lillian Maefai, also known as Lilly, 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.
Mrs Maefai confirmed to the Solomon Star that she has joined the government of prime minister Manasseh Sogavare and is also a member of his political party ‘Our Party’.
In her brief speech on the floor, the new MP for East Makira dedicated her convincing by-election win to her late husband and former MP Charles Maefai.
Mrs Maefai received over 2100 votes more than her closest rival and seasoned former politician Alfred Ghiro.
She told the Star she only stood for the election because her late husband’s supporters in East Makira urged her to stand in his place.
“At first I was a bit hesitant because I am a woman from Malaita,” she said.
“But when they kept coming to me and asking that I contest in the by-election, I decided to say yes to their request.”
Post win, she had thanked the voters of East Makira and said she had assured them she would work with the committees her late husband had set up to implement the development plans for the constituency.
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.