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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Government rural policy lures more opposition MPs


More Opposition Members of Parliament have crossed the floor to join the Grand Coalition in support of its rural development policy. By Friday last week the number had increased to four - weakening the numerical strength of the Opposition.

MP for North Guadalcanal Martin Sopaghe defected to the Government a week ago and a few days later he was joined by the MPs for West New Georgia Peter Boyers, East Makira David Sitai and North West Guadalcanal Siriako Usa. The three MPs were former members of the Independent faction of the Opposition.

Prime Minister Sogavare held a brief ceremony to welcome the MPs to his Government.
Mr Sogavare said there are more MPs from the Opposition and Independent groups who have indicated their interest to join the government. They include: South Guadalcanal MP David Pacha, Ngella MP Mark Kemakeza and Central Guadalcanal MP Peter Shanel.
It is likely that this group will cross the floor this week.

Mr Boyers said his move to the government is unconditional with "no price tag attached to it". He said they move to show support to the government and its policy because it is in the best interest of Solomon Islanders. "That's the basis of our decision to join the government," Mr Boyers told Solomon Star. "I believe the Sogavare Government is heading in the right direction when it decided to turn its focus to rural development. "We want to be part of this Government because we believe in its policies," the former finance minister said.

Mr Boyers and Mr Usa said their people are aware of their decisions adding that they also supported the government's rural policy focus. Mr Sitai added that nobody disputed his decision to move. Their decision was humbly welcomed by Mr Sogavare on Friday. "I am really humbled to welcome these MPs for together we can work to address the issues and the path of development of this country." He reiterated that his government is always open to members of the Opposition who wanted to be part of his government.

"The government's policy focus was quite attractive and we will do all we can to ensure the policies are implemented for the benefit of Solomon Islanders," he said.
Mr Sogavare also acknowledged the important decision made by the MPs to join his side. "It is an important decision which saw the confidence these MPs have in me and my government," Mr Sogavare told the Solomon Star. "I won't let the nation down but to make provision for rural development where the majority of the people are living."
Mr Sogavare said he had talks with aid donors who were keen to assist the government in its policy. "The onus is now on the government to uphold the rule of good governance so that foreign countries can help," Mr Sogavare told the MPs.

Chairman of Government Caucus Steve Abana who earlier said he expected one or two more Opposition MPs to join the Government was not present at the occasion.
The MPs are expected to remain as Government backbenchers.

source: Solomon Star (


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