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Friday, August 03, 2007

Some Sogavare backers may oppose him in No-Confidence Vote

By Solomon Star (www.solomonstarnews.com)

Political tension is building in the Solomon Islands ahead of next week’s Opposition bid to topple the Sogavare Government through a motion of no confidence.

The Solomon Star quotes a well placed Government source as saying some of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare’s ministers have betrayed him and signed to vote with the Opposition.

In a further blow to the Government, one of its backbenchers who was jailed for 20 months will not be allowed to attend the vote, the newspaper revealed.

Speaker of Parliament Sir Peter Kenilorea wrote to South New Geogia/Rendova MP Francis Zama saying he ceases his functions as an MP after the conviction.

The revelation of Zama’s omission is likely to fuel further concerns in Sogavare Government circles.

It follows leaked information some ministers have deceived the 16-month-old coalition government’s leadership.

The well placed source within the Government said these ministers feel the Government is losing people’s trust.

The source said based on that the ministers have decided to sign with the Opposition, even though telling Sogavare they will support him.

Parliament resumes on Tuesday. But it is still unclear which day the motion will be put.

The Solomon Star said intense political lobbying will continue right up until the vote.

The Government has been under concerted pressure from a coalition of civil society groups over a series of issues. These include controversial appointments of Australian lawyer Julian Moti as Attorney-General, former Fiji officer Jahir Khan as Police Commissioner, and plans – now postponed – to rearm local police.

Sogavare accuses these civil society groups of being controlled by foreign interests.

The revelation of a possible split in Government ranks follows claims by Opposition Leader Fred Fono. He said some who signed for the Government also had their signatures with the Opposition.

Prime Minister Sogavare this week showed the Solomon Star his list containing signatures of MPs and ministers who support him. It contained more than the number of MPs he needs to defeat the motion.

Fono responded by saying that he also has some of the same people signing a list he has.

Fono is likely to lead the Opposition during the motion. Former Prime Minister Francis Billy Hilly played down suggestions he’ll replace Fono in an Opposition effort to win more support.

He was among Opposition MPs who attended their meeting yesterday.

It was the first Opposition meeting for some time that all the Opposition MPs attended, the Solomon Star reported.

The spirit in the Opposition’s camp was reported to be high and they were preparing for the motion.

Source: Pacific Magazine

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