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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Expelled Australian diplomat to leave Solomon Islands on tuesday

The Australian High Commissioner to the Solomon Islands will leave Honiara and head home on Tuesday next week, exactly one week after he was declared persona non grata by the Solomons Government.

The resulting diplomatic stand-off between Australia and the Solomons islands continues.

Local staff working for the Australian High Commission in Honiara confirmed to the ABC that their boss, Patrick Cole will be heading home on Tuesday. Mr Cole broke the news to staff at a group meeting after being labelled persona non gratia by the Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare.

It is understood Mr Sogavare expelled Mr Cole for telling donor countries not to fund a commission of inquiry into the riots in April. Canberra fears the controversial judicial inquiry might hold Australian Federal Police accountable as well as giving two politicians involved in the mayhem an escape route.

It is also understood an invitation for Australian judge Marcus Einfeld to head the commission of inquiry has been withdrawn by the Solomon Islands Government.

Source: ABC News

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