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Monday, September 18, 2006

Solomon Islands PM drops Einfeld, criticises Australian Govt

The Solomon Islands Government has cancelled the appointment of the former Australia judge, Marcus Einfeld, to head a commission of inquiry into the rioting in Honiara this year.

It coincides with the Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare, criticising the Australian Government for the way it has carried out its peace-keeping mission, the Regional Assistance Mission (RAMSI).

In a national address to the country last night, Mr Sogavare announced that he was dropping Mr Einfeld as chairman of the commission of inquiry into the April 18 riots.

He says Australia's decision to pull multi-entry visas for Solomon Islands Members of Parliament was bullying and harsh.

Mr Sogavare also says that Australia was using bullying tactics in the region, and that the Solomon Islands Government will not withdraw from its position that Australia's High Commissioner will have to withdraw and be replaced by somebody else.

He says sending in armed troops is not the way to influence Pacific countries on issues of stability.

"Unless this trend is reversed now, we will be in danger of driving this country down the path of another conflict that could be more serious," he said.

Mr Sogavare thanked Australian taxpayers for their assistance, but said most of the aid money finds its way back to the Australian economy, through extravagant ex-pat aid worker salaries.

However, he said that the Solomon Islands wished to maintain good relations with Australia, and was ready for dialogue with Prime Minister John Howard.

Source: ABC News

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