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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Solomon Islands Establish Diplomatic Relations with Switzerland

Solomon Islands and the Swiss Confederation [Switzerland] have established formal diplomatic relations after the signing of a joint communiqué between their representatives today in Canberra, Australia.

His Excellency, Mr. Christian Muhlethaler, Ambassador of the Swiss Confederation to Australia, and His Excellency, Mr. Victor Ngele, High Commissioner of Solomon Islands to Australia signed the joint communiqué on behalf of their two governments.

In his brief remarks to mark the signing ceremony, Mr. Ngele said "the signing of the Joint Communiqué between the two countries signifies the commitment of the two countries to establish diplomatic relations, and cooperate in areas of mutual interests not only for the benefit of the two countries' citizens but for the common good of humanity as a whole".

Mr. Ngele said Solomon Islands believes that it is through the common understanding and cooperation between nations, through the establishment and nurturing of friendly relations, that is the pre-requisite to fostering and sustaining international peace, security and justice for all.

He added that despite being a small island state in the South Pacific region, far from the continent of Europe, Solomon Islands sees itself not as an isolated island but that it is a member of the global community.

"In order for Solomon Islands to harness the benefits of globalization, Solomon Islands recognises the need to align itself with nations that it share common values, beliefs and principles of democracy, good governance, the rule of law, gender equity and equality, equal opportunities for all in terms of education, employment and business," Mr. Ngele said.

Meanwhile, High Commissioner Ngele praised his colleague, Ambassador Muhlethaler, for his initiative and support in materializing the idea of establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Mr. Ngele gave assurance that Solomon Islands looks forward to developing and nurturing its relations with the Swiss Confederation, and to cooperate in areas of mutual concern and interests for the benefit of the two countries' citizens and the global community at large.

Source: Solomontimes

Solomon Islands has a new Prime Minister

Solomon Islands has a new prime minister.

He is Dr Derek Sikua, member of parliament for Northeast Guadalcanal.

Dr Sikua won the secret ballot vote with 32 votes. His opponent, the outgoing deputy prime minister Patteson Oti collected 15 votes.

Governor General Sir Nathaniel Waena declared Dr. Sikua's election, after an hour of voting.

In his acceptance speech, Dr Sikua said he was humbled by the trust which parliament had placed on him as the country’s prime minister.

He also thanked all Solomon Islanders who were burdened by the recent leadership crisis.

“I thank God for the peace that has prevailed during these difficult days, as answers to you prayers. I thank you also for your understanding in commitment and abiding by our laws."

He urged Christians to continue to pray so that God will grant him the wisdom and understanding to lead the country in honesty and truth.

Dr. Sikua also thanked the out-going prime minister Manasseh Sogavare for leading the country in the last 18 months.

“I offer our sincere apologies to you for any hurt that we may have caused you in the recent weeks and I pray that we will continue to work together for the betterment of our country over the remaining life of this parliament."

The new prime minister will be sworn in by the Governor General at Government House this afternoon.

Source: SIBC

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

If they fire me, they'll pay me, says Khan

Police Commissioner Jahir Khan says he’ll return to the Solomon Islands in two weeks to resume work.

Mr Khan has been accused by the Solomons Opposition of deserting his men, ahead of the parliamentary no-confidence, in which Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare was toppled.

However, Mr Khan has strongly denied the suggestion. Mr Khan says the Solomon Islands Government gave him leave.

He said, If they have terminate my contract then they have to pay me out for the remainder of my contract. But there has been no indication as such. They cannot fire me, if they fire me, they pay me out.

I am a contracted police officer, appointed by the Government under the Constitution –being sworn in by the Governor General and I’ve been assured by the Governor General about my position and told just to monitor what is the outcome of the political impasse ad then I need to come back and resume my duties.

Mr Khan is a former Assistant commissioner of Fiji police.

Mr Khan says he has no connection with Attorney –General Julian Moti but adds the Fiji-born lawyer could get his job back if he clear his name in Australia.

Australia has been after the controversial lawyer over child sex allegations.

Source: Peoplefirstnet

Koto to guide Bilikiki Boys to France

Henry Koto will coach the ‘Bilikiki Boys’ in the Beach Soccer World Cup in France in July.

The veteran representative player last month went with the team to Brazil in his first appearance as player-coach.

He combined in the coaching role with New Zealander Terrence van Dillen.

Van Dillen had been helping the team with physical training while here with the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).

Koto’s promotion followed the departure of Airton Andrioli after the national team’s disastrous effort in the South Pacific Games and World Cup qualifying matches in Samoa in September.

National coach Andrioli’s contract was not renewed after the failure in Samoa. The Australian-based Brazilian had also been coaching the Bilikiki Beach Boys.

Team manager Rueben Oimae said Koto is likely to be helped by an overseas coach before the tournament.

The Bilikiki team will resume training towards end of next month


Unity is not a problem with the new government: Mr Hunue'ehu

The Opposition Media Spokesman Edward Huni'ehu says his group believes in unity of Solomon Islands.

Mr Huni'ehu was responding to a question on how the Opposition would accommodate other provinces who do not have any MPs in their group if they take over the government after Thursday's election of a new Prime Minister.

The Opposition group, which voted out Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, did not have any M-Ps from Choiseul and Temotu Provinces and Honiara.

But Mr Huni'ehu says the Opposition group believes in unity and fair representation and such situation would not be a problem.

Mr Huni'ehu says the group would leave that issue to the new Prime Minister to decide.

Source: SIBC

Friday, December 14, 2007

Sogavare removed as Solomon Islands' PM in no-confidence motion

The people of Solomon Islands will find out who will be their new prime minister next week.

After a day of debate MPs voted 25 to 22, in support of a no-confidence motion against Manessah Sogavare.

The parliament is expected to sit next week to appoint a replacement.

There were no reports of altercation or clashes followng yesterday's vote.

Our Pacific correspondent, Campbell Cooney, says the change is likely to lead to an improvement in the island nation's relationship with Australia.

Since taking power in April 2006, Mr Sogavare has battled with the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI), and its Australian leadership, over its purpose and direction.

His relationship with the Australian government has also been strained by his refusal to extradite his attorney general, Julian Moti, who is wanted in Australia on child sex charges.

Prior to this sitting of parliament, the opposition said it would authorise the arrest and extradition of Mr Moti.

The opposition has yet to announce who will be the new prime minister.

Security around parliament remains tight, although there are no reports of any trouble.

Source: Radio Australia

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


By Deli Oso
Press Secretary to the Prime Minister

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said the government is dispatching the police to investigate reports that the Minister for Communication, Aviation and Meteorology, Mr Johnson Koli resigned from the government after being kidnapped by agents of the Opposition Group.

Mr Sogavare said Mr Koli was in his constituency for a funeral when he was taken against his will to sign a prepared resignation letter.

He said as far as he understood the former Minister for Fisheries and Marine Resources, Mr Nolen Leni was the mastermind behind the kidnap.

The Prime Minister said three public officers were amongst those who executed the abduction.

He said it was unfortunate that the Opposition had resorted to committing crime to secure the number to overthrow the government.

The Prime Minister said the Opposition had been accusing the government of resorting to threat to maintain support to remain in office but it was really the opposite way around.

He said the government had facilitated Mr Koli’s trip to his constituency for the funeral without keeping surveillance on him because it respected its MPs’ freedom of movement.

Mr Sogavare said he and the Minister for Police and National Security had discussed the matter and decided to dispatch the police to investigate.

Source: PMC

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Beach Soccer: Bilikiki to enter Marseille 2008 Beach Soccer world cup without OFC competition

The Bilikiki Beach soccer team has been accorded direct entry into the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup finals in Marseille France in 2008, it was confirmed.

An elated Solomon Islands Football Federation (SIFF) General Secretary Eddie Ngava described Bilikiki’s direct entry as “great news”. “This is great news. The Bilikiki will now slide all the way to France, by passing the OFC Qualifiers,” he says.

But while he welcomes the announcement, he is also mindful about the the amount of work, dedication and commitment such an undertaking will need and calls for concerted effort from everyone concern. “Whilst this is great, there will need to be a lot of dedication and commitment in preparation. We are yet to receive further advise form OFC on international preparation and related costs.”

In the meantime, he urges everyone involved to work together to ensure all domestic preparations are mapped out well.

The confirmation was relayed to SIFF president Martin Alufurai at the weekend by OFC president Reynald Temarii. Responding to the message, the SIFF president thanked Temarii for confirming Solomon Islands’ direct entry to the 2008 Beach World Cup final competition and also for the support of the OFC Executive.

The decision to give Bilikiki their third representation duties was agreed to when Temarii and his General Secretary Tai Nicholas met with the FIFA General Secretary Jérôme Valcke, and the FIFA Director of competitions, Jim Brown, recently.

Temarii also assured Alufurai that he will try to organise a visit by one trainer from Brazil or Europe to assist Bilikiki in their preparation. Reuben Oimae, Bilikiki Team Manager also added that now FIFA had given the greenlight for Solomon Islands to directly enter the beach play off in France next year, they will put on their best.

Mr. Oimae said: “Regardless of that, we still have respect for our other beach soccer nations.” These include Vanuatu, New Zealand, Tahiti and the others.

In the meantime, he said that Fiji is trying to get into and even though Solomon Islands have played them yet, but still they will not under-estimate them.

Source: Solomonstar

Monday, December 10, 2007

Sogavare announced Solomon Islands' meeting of parliament

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has announced that the next meeting of Parliament will convene Monday, 24th December, 2007.

"... Parliament must meet to consider the explanation from the new Minister of Finance and Treasury for the delayed presentation of the budgetary estimates for next year, and pass the necessary resolution to authorise the issue of money from the Consolidated Fund to meet expenditure at the current level until the new Appropriation Act is passed next year," Mr. Sogavare said.

He said that the Cabinet's advice will be relayed to the Governor General today.

The Prime Minister said he "expected His Excellency to act in accordance with that advice to change the date to enable Parliament to meet for the transaction of Government business under Sections 102(1) and 103(1) of our Constitution."

"As I have stated time and again, we are a responsible and popular Government. We have not breached any constitutional requirements until now and have no intention to subvert the laws we have undertaken to uphold," Mr. Sogavare said.

"Following the removal of Honourable Gordon Darcy Lilo from the Ministry of Finance and Treasury, both former Finance Minister Francis Zama and current Finance Minister Peter Boyers have discovered too many anomalies and discrepancies in the way the 2008 budget was being prepared for scrutiny and approval by Parliament. The people of Solomon Islands deserve to know all the reasons why the budget was not ready a month ago and when it will finally be presented."

Prime Minister Sogavare pointed out that "under our Constitution, it is the Minister of Finance, and no one else, who has the right and duty to present the Government's budget for next year, and to seek parliamentary condonation for its delay by empowering him to authorise expenditure at the current levels until the new Appropriation Act is passed."

"I am pleased to tell the nation that our Grand Coalition for Change Government continues to command the solid support pledged by 25 out 48 Members of Parliament. With that absolute majority of votes pledged in our favour, there will not be a quorum for the parliamentary meeting, which the Governor General has unilaterally convened by issuing his Proclamation," the Prime Minister stated.

Mr. Sogavare said the purpose of the meeting convened by that Proclamation was to allow Government to seek the necessary resolution from Parliament under Section 103(1) of the Constitution.

"That resolution is monetary in nature and can only be passed when moved by the Minister of Finance," he said.

"The Opposition has no constitutional role to play in that exercise except to demonstrate their capacity to function as 'responsible leaders' in cooperating with Government to ensure that the resolution is passed in the national interest. They would expect the same from us if our roles were reversed," Mr. Sogavare said.

Mr Sogavare added that Cabinet is imploring the Governor General to follow their collective advice and postpone the meeting of Parliament till December 24th.

He said this will enable the Minister of Finance to provide a comprehensive report to Parliament on the state of the nation's finances and indicate the exact date when next year's budget will be ready for presentation.

"The reality of the situation is that the meeting is purposely being convened to transact Government business. That can only be done when the new Minister of Finance says Government is ready, willing and able to do what the Constitution requires."

Mr. Sogavare said that the outcome of the case currently being heard in the High Court has no bearing on Cabinet's selection of the new date of the next Parliament meeting, except to clarify the constitutional requirements to accord with the principles of executive responsibility enshrined in our Constitution.

Source: Solomon times

Friday, December 07, 2007

Gov't seeks to end Telekom monopoly

The government is looking at improving the legislation to support the introduction of competition in the telecommunication industry in the country as part of its ongoing reform in the industry sectors.

This will include ending the monopoly currently enjoyed by Our Telekom, the only telecommunication services provider in the Solomon Islands.

Finance Minister Peter Boyers made the announcement during his address at the a reception held for the private sector and business houses at the Pacific Casino Hotel yesterday.

Mr Boyers said for the consumers to benefit in the long term, competition must be allowed to take its course and exclusive license forgone.

“The express aim here is to put downward pressure on the telecommunications costs to the benefit of both personal and business consumers”, Mr Boyers told the representatives from many of the major companies in the country.

Our Telekom, formerly Solomon Telekom Company Limited, holds an exclusive licence to operate telecommunication services in Solomon Islands.

Already another telecommunication company, Digicel Pacific, a sister company to the Digicel Group, has been granted an experimental licence in Solomon Islands, although this was legally challenged by Our Telekom.

Solomon Telekom Company Limited (Telekom), is a joint venture company between Solomon Island's National Provident Fund, (SINPF) which hold 64.74% of the shares, and Cable & Wireless Plc of the United Kindom which holds 32.58% of shares and the Investment Corporation of the Solomon Islands (ICSI) which owns 2.68 % of the shares.

In the aviation industry, competition in the international aviation sector will be further enhanced with the introduction of two further carriers – Pacific Blue and Sky Air World. This will increase to at least four (4) the number of carriers flying from Solomon Islands to Australia, said Mr Boyers.

Source: PMC


Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare is planning to invite his new Australian counterpart, Mr Kevin Rudd and his Parliamentary Secretary for the Pacific, Mr Duncan Kerr to Honiara for face-to-face dialogues to mend Honiara’s strained relationship with Canberra.

Mr Sogavare announced the intention at a reception the government hosted for the business houses in Honiara yesterday.

Prime Minister Sogavare said the government would be putting forward an official invitation for Mr Rudd and Mr Kerr to come into the country to discuss issues affecting Solomon Islands and Australia.

He said he would be meeting with Mr Kerr first as Prime Minister Rudd had already been booked for a visit to East Timor at the invitation of the East Timorese Prime Minister and thus he had to wait until after the completion of that engagement.

“We want to meet face-to-face with Mr Rudd and Mr Kerr so we can discuss issues affecting our two countries and I would like to see all the issues clouding our relationship to be dealt with as quickly as possible so we can move on with our lives and get on with the business of development,” Mr Sogavare said.

Prime Minister Sogavare said the Solomon Islands government appreciated the appointment of Mr Kerr as Parliamentary Secretary for the Pacific.

He said Mr Kerr’s comments on the Canberra/Honiara relationship as reported by the media spoke well of him as a person who fully understood the feelings and thinking of the Solomon Islands government.

Source: PMC

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Sir Allan Kemakeza sentenced to two months imprisonment

The Central Magistrates Court in Honiara has sentenced former Prime Minister Sir Allan Kemakeza to two months imprisonment and ordered to pay seven-thousand-500 dollars for three counts he was convicted of today.

Magistrate Chris Vaas last month found Sir Allan guilty of demanding money with menace, intimidation and larceny.

In his decision this morning Mr Vaas sentenced Sir Allan five months each for the three offences, but the time to be serve concurrently.

Magistrate Vaas said this mean that Sir Allan is to serve a total of five months only.

However, the Magistrate said in view of the defendant's outstanding service to the nation, both before and since the commission of the offences, pursuant to Section 44 of the Penal Code he ordered that Sir Allan be released after serving two months of the sentence.

Magistrate Vaas said the balance of the sentence, namely three months, be suspended for a period of 12 months.

He also allow three months for Sir Allan to pay the fines totaling seven-thousand-500 dollars. In default of payment, three months imprisonment.

Meanwhile, Sir Allan is out on one-thousand's bail pending an appeal by his lawyer against the Court decision which found the former Prime Minister guilty of the charges.

Source: SIBC


By Deli Oso
Press Secretary to the Prime Minister

The government has filled all vacant ministerial portfolios this afternoon with the appointment of three government backbenchers as Ministers.

They are the MP for Central Makira, Mr Bernard Ghiro, MP for Central Honiara, Mr Nelson Ne’e and the MP for East Honiara, Mr Charles Dausabea.

Mr Ghiro is the Minister for National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace whilst Mr Ne’e and Mr Dausabea are the Ministers for Home affairs and Public Service respectively.

The trio took their oaths of allegiance and office before the Governor General, His Excellency Sir Nathaniel Waena in a swearing-in ceremony at the Government House yesterday afternoon.

The three respective ministries were left vacant upon the mass defection of government MPs last month.

Meanwhile, the government rules with a majority of 25 MPs following the return of three of its defector ministers and the crossover of three Opposition MPs.

Source: PMC

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

To'abaita youth in India to participate in small business competitiveness training

A To'abaita youth who is the interim chief executive officer of the Small & Medium Enterprises Council (SMEC), Mr Francis Solo is currently in India on a training programme.

Mr Solo left on Sunday to participate at the 7th Commonwealth India Small Business Competitiveness Programme.

The five day training starts today and ends on December 10.

This programme which brings around 60 delegates from Commonwealth countries is held in the Indian city of Kochi.

The conference focuses on equipping senior government, private sector and non government officials in enhancing small and medium enterprises.

Small and medium businesses are long seen as the vehicle for economic development.

Mr Solo returns to Honiara on December 13.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

West Kwara'ae Voters want their leader back in government

Community leaders of West Kwara’ae constituency in Malaita Province have called on their Member of Parliament Sam Iduri to rejoin the government for fear over the possible collapse of development projects in the constituency.

Mr Iduri defected to the Opposition along with 9 nine other ministers three weeks ago in an attempt to unseat Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.

The former Minister of Peace and Reconciliation was reportedly being kept under constant tight security at the Honiara Hotel where members of the Opposition group are politically barricaded.

West Kwara’ae Community Spokesperson, fifty eight year-old Benjamin Ladoa said the defection of Mr Iduri casts many doubts on current government-funded development projects in the area.

Mr Ladoa cited the Auluta Basin Palm Oil project as one major development project likely to be abandoned if Mr Iduri and other MPs’ from Malaita insisted to destabilize the present government’s development aspirations for rural people.

“We fear that this major project will collapse if our MP failed to push our voice in the government decisions,” he said. “The best way to avoid this problem is to have our leader back in the present government.

The Auluta Palm Oil Project covers an area combining three Malaita constituencies including West Kwara’ae, Fataleka and East Malaita – it is expected to improve rural standards of living once fully implemented.

Mr Iduri and MP for Fataleka Steve Abana deserted the government. East Malaita is yet to have a parliamentarian following the death of former MP - the late Joses Sanga in May this year.

Mr Ladoa who led a group of West Kwara’ae leader’s to Honiara in an attempt to convince their leader to rejoin the government said they are also very disappointed with relentless security excuses blocking them from meeting personally with Mr Iduri at the Honiara Hotel.

He said it is sad that they are not given any chance to express their opinion to Mr Iduri who is currently being barricaded at the hotel by certain political bodyguards.
“We are the rural people whom he represented and he must not be blocked in any way from meeting us,” Ladoa disappointingly said. “We empowered him to serve us and not those people at the hotel.

Mr Ladoa said they will continue to ask Mr Iduri to humbly rejoin the government and if there is failure they will take all appropriate actions to find a replacement.
Mr Iduri could not be reached for comments to tell his voter’s why he left the Sogavare-led Grand Coalition for Change Government.

“We desperately want to hear his reasons and that can only be achieved if we have face to face dialogue,” Ladoa said. “We will not accept any reasons communicated to us through secondary sources”.

Malaita province has a total of 14 MPs’ the present 48 member parliament of which 9 are in the Opposition, 3 remained with the government while two seats are currently vacant.

Source: PMC

Taiwan boost assistance in Solomon Islands piggerry farming

By Silas Lilo
The government of Taiwan continues to boost support and commitment with the aim to improve piggery farming in Solomon Islands. This is evident as Taiwanese Ambassador George Chan officially opened a Taiwanese-government-funded workshop on pig farming management in Honiara yesterday.

He said the three-day Workshop is aimed at improving the skills and knowledge of rural pig farmers in the Solomon Islands.

“Taiwan sponsored this workshop not for the sake of our own interest, but there are many interested Pig farmers who want to improve their skills and knowledge and that’s why we are proud to sponsor this workshop” he said.

Chan said despite various livestock development projects that have been started in Solomon Islands - raising piggery remains one of the successful livestock activities in the country. This is because of the Melanesian cultural significant of domesticated animals such as pig are a token of wealth, tribute of compensation, cooperation and reconciliation, and also gifts for wedding ceremonies and other festivals ceremonies.

Mr Chan said most importantly the pig industry can boost cash income and also create more work in rural areas. He said the pig raising project was not just started by Taiwan in Solomon Islands as the Taiwan Technical Mission (TTM) has started this project three years ago and had help numerous farmers throughout the provinces in the country.

“This was conducted by improving farmer’s skills, management, knowledge, disease prevention as well as productivity. Chan said Solomon Islands had been proved by researchers from the Taiwan Technical Mission that it has the best breed of pigs most suitable for formulated feed.

“With these developments, farmers from different provinces pledge their commitment in participating in this workshop to know more about pig Farming Management,” he said.

He said this year on their agenda was the year of pig which means they would be putting more priority in establishing more piggery projects around the Solomon Islands.

Chan said although Solomon Islands faced this political turmoil, Taiwan’s commitment of implementing this project would continue as it shows the genuine commitment which Taiwan has in their relationship with the Solomon Islands.

Source: PMC

Opposition group has a new political name

The Opposition grouping has named itself the "Coalition for National Unity and Rural Advancement", C-NURA.Announcing some of the policies of the group, MP for East Are'are Edward Huni'ehu says the group will re-name the Bottom Up Approach policy to Grassroot/Rural Development Approach.

He says under the new arrangement,C-NURA will formulate and establish effective ways to ensure successful implementation of the Bottom Up Approach Policy.Mr Huni'ehu says that to ensure the new rural development policy meets the aspiration of the rural people, the government under the C-NURA will strengthen the Department of National Planning and Aid Coordination to ensure the policy is realistic and viable.

He says under the Bottom Up Approach policy propagated by the Sogavare-led government, much of the money receive by the government was spent on luxurious utilities, huge salary hikes and support to his associated that nothing much is left for rural development.

Mr Huni'ehu says the Prime Minister had spent most of the time protecting his friends leaving nothing much for Rural Constituency Development Officer little to implement rural-based developments.

He says under new strategies advocated by C-NURA, the group will re-engage donor partners and provinces to develop a national aid policy.

Source: SIBC

Monday, December 03, 2007


MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Nov. 29) – The new Australian Labor government has announced the appointment of a parliamentary secretary for the South Pacific with the task of rebuilding relations with Pacific governments.

He is Duncan Kerr, who was the justice minister from 1993 to 1996 in the previous Labor government.

The new prime minister, Kevin Rudd, announced Mr Kerr's appointment for the Pacific while announcing his new cabinet.

"If you notice anything about our relations with the South Pacific in recent years, they've gone through one rocky patch after another," Mr Rudd said. "It's not the time for an extensive policy discussion as to why that has been the case. I would suggest having a dedicated parliamentary secretary, and someone with such extensive experience as Duncan, charged with that responsibility, will help rebuild the fabric of personal and political relationships with the governments of the South Pacific."

Mr Kerr was dean of law at the University of Papua New Guinea in the mid-1980s.

Source: Pacific Islands Report

Opposition MPs Locked Away Like Prisoners: Ne'e

More MPs who defected to the opposition recently are starting to realise they can switch sides again.

Government Caucus Chairman, Nelson Ne'e, who has been coordinating efforts to bring MPs back to join the government, told Radio New Zealand International that the Opposition has locked away its MPs at the Honiara Hotel to shelter them from government lobbying.

His comments follow the recent defection of two MPs, Peter Boyers and Johnson Koli, to take up Ministerial portfolios this week.

Mr. Ne'e told Radio New Zealand International that the Opposition MPs are being locked away "as prisoners, and it's not on with us".

"Our government is open, it's the government of the nation," he is quoted by Radio New Zealand International as saying.

The latest defections have lifted the government's number to 25 of the 48 held seats.

Meanwhile, the new Minister of Finance, Peter Boyers, refutes criticisms leveled against him for his move to the Sogavare-led government.

Opposition Spokesman for Finance, Edward Huni'ehu, criticised Mr. Boyers as lacking credibility as a leader by not living up to principles.

However, Mr. Boyers said his decision followed assurance from Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare that government was willing to address his concerns.

Mr. Boyers said his decision was made in the interest of the nation.

He said that he can only join the government with a policy that reflect no more guns policy, no re-armament of the police force and that RAMSI must be maintained under the present arrangements.

"... with the two conditions, the Prime Minister agreed and put in writing, giving me confidence ... that the country will remain the same," Mr. Boyers said.

The new Finance Minister also wants the government to resolve the issue of Moti's illegal landing at Munda in Western Province.

Source: Solomontimes

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