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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Decentralisation: a solution to past unrests

Editor's note: We support the new government in aiming to decentralise. However, this was said before but never materialised. Whether decentralising to Provinces or States, the devolution of functions, powers and resources must go hand in hand. In the past this did not happen, so the decentralising never really worked well. There must be very clear plans of demarcation as to who does what, and who is responsible for what.

By Chris Leua

The government is looking seriously at addressing the causes of the past unrests, as one of the priorities contained in the government’s Development Strategies that is expected to be made public very soon.

In his concluding remarks before the adjournment of the motion of sine die on Friday, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare told Parliament that the Grand Coalition Government would be putting out to the public a Coalition Joint Development Strategies.

“A more detailed joint position of the Grand Coalition will be put out to the public soon. We are intending to do that as soon as we settle down and get the ministries to work and clear in where we are going,” Mr Sogavare said.

Mr Sogavare pointed out that grievances held by even a minority group can cause persistent setbacks to development in the country, citing the recent unrest in Honiara and the ethnic turmoil of the past years as a testamony to that fact. He said only a minority of the population brought the country to its knees in 2000 and only a minority group did it again on Tuesday 18 April. He said development strategies and policies so far have been formulated minus the concerns for the reason why the country collapsed in year 2000.

“I feel this is a very important point of reference we need to look seriously at to take this country forward more constructively, and we need to take account of the reasons behind why this country collapsed in year 2000. He said such incidents in our history should be ringing bells that should drive policy makers to think more on how to address them. And what is the Grand Coalition’s position on the unrests? Mr Sogavare favours even distribution of development throughout the provinces."

“The clear message is decentralisation.”

“Get developments out to rural areas so that we disburse people out to the other development centres so that we do not put unnecessary pressures in Honiara.” He said the log of claims issued by the Guadalcanal province before the onset of the ethnic unrest has a wider implication for the country. “Although the demands are attributed to the people of Guadalcanal, they have national application. And any government cannot go wrong in terms of its development strategies to take decisions into consideration, because these are issues that should be addressed anyway in any development strategies.”

He said the reasons for the unrests highlighted three main categories of concerns against the incompatibility of the system of governance adopted since independence. Mr Sogavare cited the concerns as; a heavily centralized foreign control government, the incompatibility of inherited colonial land policy and disrespect for cultures and customs of indigenous people. He said the Grand Coalition Government is of the belief that the country cannot possibly afford to repeat this mistake again this time round and still consider ourselves normal.

“Loss of lives and destruction to important development infrastructures must stand as important reminders for the present and future governments to adopt strategies that will open up other centres in the country,” he said.

News source: http://www.pmc.gov.sb/

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