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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Solomons Parliament remains heavily guarded: New D/Speaker is Sir Allan Kemakeza

ABC News Online reports stated today that Australian soldiers and police will again be preventing members of the Solomon Islands public from approaching anywhere near the country's Parliament in Honiara today.

The Regional Assistance Mission (RAMSI) security force had the Parliament under total lockdown yesterday as 49 of the 50 members of the Parliament were sworn in. The 50th member, Nelson Ne'e, had been refused bail after appearing in court on charges related to last week's riot. Another Opposition MP, Charles Dausabea, was taken away by the RAMSI police as he left Parliament and was charged last night with one count of inciting riot, one count of threatening violence and one count of intimidation. .

The Opposition says the actions of RAMSI have placed the Members of Parliament under duress in the performance of their duties. Yesterday the Speaker, Sir Peter Kenilorea, agreed to adjourn the election of the deputy speaker. However, that is likely to take place this morning without those two Opposition MPs present. The Police Commissioner, Shane Castles, says the same conditions of security around the Parliament will be in force today.

Corruption Probe
The swearing in of the Government has failed to dissuade questions about the funding of the election campaign of the new Prime Minister, Snyder Rini. There have been allegations from Opposition MPs that Taiwanese money was funnelled into the campaign. But Mr Rini has denied his country has a major corruption problem. Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister, Alexander Downer, has told ABC TV's Lateline there are ongoing investigations into corruption in the troubled country.

"There are, it's true, allegations flying around in Solomon Islands about what might have happened with Taiwanese money," he said. "I can't prove any of those allegations, those allegations amongst others are all part of the responsibility of the police," said Downer.

New Deputy Speaker of Parliament
Meanwhile, latest reports from SIBC revealed that former Prime Minister Sir Allan Kemakeza is the new deputy speaker of Parliament. Sir Allan was elected Deputy Speaker by 25 members of Parliament.

It is understood that Parliamentary Opposition members left Parliament meeting this morning following a call by MP for Aoke/Langalanga, Bartholomew Ulufa'alu, for members to do so. He made the call after Speaker Sir Peter Kenilorea refused a request by MP for Temotu Nende, Patteson Oti, that the election of the Deputy Speaker be postponed until two Opposition MPs can attend Parliament. East Honiara MP, Charles Dausabea and Central Honiara member, Nelson Ne'e did not attend Parliament this morning because they were in police custody, being refused bail.

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