To'abaita Authority for Research & Development (TARD)

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Welcome to the TARD Homepage...{Sore lea tale oe uri fula lamu mai la biu ne'e TARD}...TARD is To'abaita's rural voice on the web

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

New Zealand soccer boss praises SI U20 players for good deed

New Zealand Soccer CEO Graham Seatter has written to the Solomon Islands Football Federation President Martin Alufurai to inform him of a good deed performed by two members of the national Under 20 team in Auckland early this year.

Seatter revealed they recently received a phone call from a member of the New Zealand public following on from the participation of the Solomon Islands Men's team in the Oceania U20 qualifying tournament held in Auckland.

He says the team was based at the Poenamo Hotel on Auckland's North Shore and it was during their stay that Mr. Graeme Rattray and his friend Mr. Pat Tutara (both disabled) were also in residence at the Poenamo.

Mr. Seatter says Tutara suffered a fall and found himself on the floor of his unit. His friend Mr. Rattray attempted to help him regained his footing but was unsuccessful.

It was in that instance that two Solomon Islanders came to the aid of these gentlemen and helped them up.

"They were extremely polite and helpful and even returned to the unit the next day to enquire about Mr. Tutara's health. The management of the Solomon Islands team were also courteous and concerned in their interest."

Mr. Rattray went on to say that these players had renewed his faith in young men of today and both he and Mr. Titara would like to extend their best wishes to all involved for every success in the future.

"We felt this act needed to be recognized and on behalf of everyone at New Zealand Soccer and Messrs Rattray and Tutara extend our personal thanks for such a kind and thoughtful act. Too frequently sports teams are lamented for bad or disruptive behaviour and we congratulate you on having such fantastic ambassadors for your sport."

Source: SIFF

Hollywood film director claims to have found Jesus' tomb

A Hollywood film director James Cameron (pictured) has claimed in a new documentary that Jesus had a son named Judah and was buried alongside Mary Magdalene.

The film examines a tomb found near Jerusalem in 1980 which producers say belonged to Jesus and his family.

Speaking in New York, the Oscar-winning Titanic director said statistical tests and DNA analysis backed this view.

But Mr Cameron's claim has been attacked by archaeologists and theologians as unfounded. Archaeologists said that the burial cave was probably that of a Jewish family with similar names to that of Jesus.

But Mr Cameron said the combination of names found on the tombs convinced him of their heritage.

A documentary claims this is the ossuary of Jesus Christ

Israeli construction workers building an apartment complex in Jerusalem's East Talpiot district first uncovered 10 of the 2,000-year-old ossuaries - or limestone coffins - in a tomb in March 1980.

According to the Israel Antiquities Authority, six of those coffins were marked with the names Mary; Matthew; Jesua son of Joseph; Mary; Jofa (Joseph, Jesus' brother); and Judah son of Jesua.

Another grave said by producers to be of Mary Magdalene convinced researchers of the truth of their find, Mr Cameron said at a New York news conference.

Unveiling his documentary "The Lost Tomb of Jesus", Mr Cameron said the chances of finding that combination of names together was like finding a grave marked Ringo next to others marked John, Paul and George.

"Mariamene is Mary Magdalene - that's the Ringo, that's what sets this whole film in motion," he said.

The documentary asserts that tests on samples from two of the coffins show Jesus and Mary Magdalene were likely to have been buried in them and were a couple. The film-makers used this finding to claim that the coffin marked "Judah son of Jesua" contains the son of Jesus and Mary.

But they said the discovery of the tomb does not undermine the key Christian belief that Jesus was resurrected three days after his death.

Academic Stephen Pfann, a scholar at the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem, said he did not expect Christians to accept the film's findings.

"I don't think that Christians are going to buy into this," said Mr Pfann, who was interviewed by the film-makers. But sceptics, in general, would like to see something that pokes holes into the story that so many people hold dear."

Israeli archaeologist Amos Kloner, who was among the first to examine the tomb when it was first discovered, said the names marked on the coffins were very common at the time.

"I don't accept the news that it was used by Jesus or his family. The documentary filmmakers are using it to sell their film," said Kloner.

It is reported Mr Cameron showed two of the coffins at the news conference.

Source: BBC

Solomon Islands Opposition wants legislation to stop party switching

The Solomon Islands opposition leader, Hon Fred Fono says legislation to stop parties switching allegiance during a parliamentary term would bring stability to the country’s political system.

Fred Fono made this call after the opposition last week unsuccessfully tried to bring a vote of no confidence in the government.

While the vote was disqualified and did not go ahead, Mr Fono says opposition members still came under huge pressure from cabinet ministers not to support the vote against the government.

He says the intimidation included death threats directed against himself and three other MPs.

Mr Fono says this would not happen if people remained within their parties for the duration of the parliamentary term.

“That is a piece of legislation that both the government and the opposition would support. Similar to the Integrity bill in Papua New Guinea where members of parliament, once elected, they remain with the party that they won their seats with, unless they have a new mandate from their people.”

Source: RNZI

Rove Prison remandees on hunger strike due to lengthy delays in court cases

A number of remandees at Solomon Islands' main prison in Rove, Honiara are on a hunger strike, since Monday.

More than 10 remandees from Rove Prison have written to the Chief Justice expressing concern over the length of time it's taking for their cases to be brought to trial. Some of them also want judgement on their cases to be expedited. All the inmates on hunger strike have been in remand for a lengthy period of time, some for more than three years. Most of them are facing murder charges.

Meanwhile, the Chief Justice Sir Albert Palmer has directed that all cases involving prisoners who are protesting about court delays be urgently reviewed.

The Chief Justice said the workload of the Solomon Islands High Court is at un-precedent levels. He said while just a few years ago the Court would deal with only a handful of criminal trials each year, now there are over 80 trials for the most serious of offences awaiting hearing.

He said this is the inevitable consequence of the restoration of law and order and the rejuvenation of the criminal justice system since the RAMSI intervention. However, the chief justice said despite this, no one believes that the delays being experienced are acceptable.

He said every case is now being reviewed to ensure that each is concluded as quickly as possible.

The office of the High Court says that of the 12 prisoners who have protested about delays, six are involved in cases where judgment is due within the next five weeks; four are listed for 16th March 2007 to fix a trial date; and two are already serving lengthy prison sentences on unrelated convictions.

Source: Pac Beat & SIBC

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Malaita opposition MPs claim their lives were threatened amidst political tussle in Honiara

Three Opposition and one Independent members of Parliament from Malaita have condemned death threats made against them.

Opposition leader and MP for Central Kwara'ae, Fred Fono, Independent leader and MP for North Malaita, Enele Kwanairara; East Are Are MP, Edward Huniehu and Small Malaita MP William Haomae have all received death threats from unidentified people believed to be living in Honiara.

A statement from the MPs says the people who have issued the death threats have also sworn at them and their families. They says the behaviour is not in line with Christian principles, traditional and cultural norms.

The MPs say if national leaders are involved in the threats they should consider their integrity and lest they forget, the respect people have for them.

They believe people who were against the planned no confidence motion by the Opposition had made the death threats and swearing.

The four MPs say threats on national leaders are disrespectful, unwarranted and uncalled for because they should be allowed to discuss national issues freely both inside and outside Parliament.

Source: SIBC

Australian Bill Johnson left Solomon Islands voluntarily as he was residing illegally

Director of Solomon Islands Immigration Jeffery Deve clarified that 61 year old Bill Johnson has voluntarily left the country on Sunday.

Mr Deve says Mr Johnson decided to have Immigration authorities sent him to Australia as opposed to a deportation order.

Mr Deve says his department only facilitated the process of sending him back to Australia. He says Mr Johnson himself realised that he had been residing illegally in the country, and when put to him that he should be deported, he agreed to have him sent back.

The Immigration director says Mr Johnson failed to renew his permit to reside in the country.

Mr Deve says Mr Johnson had consented to spend a night in the custody of police before being put on a plane to Australia yesterday afternoon. He says Mr Johnson is also prohibited from re-entering the country.

Source: SIBC

Solomon Islands Academic congratulates government on Malaita Palm Oil project

A Solomon Islands academic has congratulated the government and Malaita province for achieving an important milestone in the Auluta Palm Oil project.

Writing from Melbourne, Australia where he is studying, Philip Tangini says the project is important because it is the first major development on Malaita since the Townsville Peace Agreement was signed in 2000.

He says now that the land acquisition process has been launched, it is a happy moment for Solomon Islands.

Mr Tagini says the project will set the platform for future developments in the country.

He says Malaitans must realise that this project will test their perseverance to the limit.

Mr Tagini says he hopes government's good work will not stop at Auluta but extend to other parts of Malaita and other provinces.

Source: SIBC

RAMSI Special Coordinator surprised by “Black Box” claims by Solomons PM

by Jeremy Miller

RAMSI Special Coordinator, Tim George yesterday expressed surprise at the Prime Minister’s decision to once again raise allegations that mysterious black boxes were lifted out of the sea in front of the RAMSI headquarters.

Mr George said he was puzzled that the Prime Minister should repeat this claim to the national parliament last Friday as he had already personally provided the Prime Minister with formal written advice on the allegations in January of this year.

In his letter of 18 January Mr George re-assured the Prime Minister that there was nothing sinister in the activities referred to which had been part of a joint sea and air rescue exercise between the SIG authorities and RAMSI.

Prime Minister Sogavare told the parliament on Friday that “six boxes were lifted from the sea just outside of GBR…no one knows what they are because no one is allowed to go and check them,” the Prime Minister said.

However the Special Coordinator said today that it was simply not true that no one knew or that no one was allowed to check.

“In fact the Prime Minister knows himself the true story behind these claims because I told him,” Mr George said in a statement released yesterday.

“There was nothing sinister or secretive about this exercise, as it was actually involving SIG authorities and RAMSI, as I have already informed the Prime Minister.

Mr George said that he had taken time and care to check the claims after the prime minister raised it with him in a meeting on 11 January this year.

Mr George’s letter in response to the Prime Minister on 18 January, says in part:

“Regarding alleged reports of RAMSI helicopters taking containers out of the sea near GBR. In December 2006 RAMSI helicopters, as well as several boats, participated in a routine sea and air rescue exercise in the sea off GBR. This was a joint exercise with Solomon Island Government authorities. Nothing was removed from the sea”

The letter then goes on to state: “The above confirms that reports conveyed to you of possible untoward activities by RAMSI have no substance.

“Nevertheless please feel free to contact me with any genuine concerns you have about RAMSI and I will be happy to look into them and respond to you. Similarly the Commander of the Participating Police Force, Will Jamieson, and the Commander of the Combined Task Force, Lieutenant Colonel Martin, would be happy to meet with you at any time to brief you and respond to questions on the activities by the RAMSI police or military respectively.”

Mr George said he was always available to personally respond to any concerns the Prime Minister might have.

Source: RAMSI

Monday, February 26, 2007

Students express concern over NTU's handling of new SIG students to USP

A number of new Solomon Islands Government sponsored students to the University of the South Pacific in Suva who have arrived over the weekend have expressed their disappointment with how the National Training Unit (NTU) has handled their welfare.

Several matured students who are part of the group which arrived yesterday say the late arrival of new students as witnessed this year should never be repeated as it can affect the academic performance of new students.

"The NTU should consider sending new SIG students at least two weeks before classes commence. Classes have already started today but new students who just arrived over the weekend are still undergoing registration which is very unfortunate," said the group of new students.

The students added that since their arrival yesterday, they will need at least two weeks to settle as they need to register, locate their lecture and tutorial rooms, and secure accomodation. This according to the students will be a waste of valuable time which should have been used to accumulate adequate knowledge of their courses if they have arrived on time.

"The government also needs to seriously consider giving an initial establishment allowance, at least FJ$500 to be deducted directly from the students maintenance allowance, to all sponsored students so that they can be able to secure immediate off-campus accomodation and settle rather than waiting for at least two weeks.

"That is the reason why a considerable number of new SIG students are still temporarily bunking with other friends as there are not enough rooms available on-campus due to the very late arrival of Solomon Islands government sponsored students."

Bill Johnson deported to Australia after being cleared of plots to assassinate Sogavare

The Australian man accused of plotting to assassinate Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare, has been deported from Honiara.

Bill Johnson, an Australian Vietnam Veteran, was arrested by Solomon Islands Police and flown to Australia yesterday.

He was arrested last month on charges of conspiracy to murder Mr Sogavare and plotting to committ a felony. However, the charges were dropped by the Director of Public Prosecution last week, because of what were described as "inconsistencies" in two police witness statements.

Bill Johnson is married to a Solomon Islander with four children.He has lived in Solomon Islands, particularly northeast Malaita since 1989.

Source: Radio Australia

USP Laucala Campus begins semester one classes today

The University of the South Pacific's Laucala Campus in Suva begins its semester one classes today after a slight delay due to the December coup in Fiji.

During the weekend, two Solomon Airlines flights flew into Fiji with a majority of new and a few continuing Solomon Islands students. The normal flight arrived in Nadi on Saturday evening whilst a chartered flight arrived yesterday morning.

The two bus loads of students which came in the chartered flight reached the university late yesterday afternoon and were immediately taken to the Halls of Residence to sort out accommodation and meals. However, some new students are still bunking temporarily with others while waiting for on-campus rooms to be confirmed. It is likely that several new students may not be able to find accommodation on campus as other regional students have already arrived at the university in the past two weeks, and have taken up rooms on-campus.

Despite the beiginning of classes today, Solomon students that arrived over the weekend are due to undergo registration either by today or tomorrow.

Meanwhile, a final decision on the list of students who require an extension semester is expected to be released by the National Training Unit in Honiara today. Another group of students will fly to Fiji tomorrow and there is a possibility that there would be another special flight sometimes this week to bring all the remaining students to Fiji.

Menapi's double for Waitakere seals victory against Manawatu and ensures minor premiership title

Waitakere United remain unbeaten at home in the New Zealand Football Championship (NZFC) this season after Saturday afternoon's emphatic 3-1 win over second placed YoungHeart Manawatu which sealed the minor premiership title for the West Auckland club.

The win moves Waitakere five points clear of Manawatu at the top of the table and makes Waitakere odds on to claim home advantage for next month's NZFC Grand Final.

With just two rounds left in the regular season, Waitakere need just a point to wrap up top spot while other results this weekend all but confirmed Manawatu and Auckland City as the two sides who will playoff for the right to meet Waitakere in that Grand Final.

During the match, Solomon Islander Commins Menapi gave Waitakere a deserved 1-0 lead 33 minutes into the game getting a flick on a goalbound Allan Pearce shot to head it into the top right hand corner.

Against the run of play Manawatu's Solomon imported striker Benjamin Totori scored his 22nd goal of the season just before the break, cutting through the middle of the Waitakere defence before sliding his shot underneath the advancing Michael Utting for the equaliser.

Waitakere came out with renewed intent in the second half and with just seven minutes gone they were back in front thanks to a superb individual goal by Allan Pearce. Waitakere weren't finished yet and a few minutes later, Solomons import Commins Menapi made it 3-1 when he scored his second after a good through ball by Jeff Campbell.

Even at 3-1 down, Manawatu were unable to lift their game with Totori trying hard up front but running up against the solid defensive pairing of George Suri, another Solomon Islander, and Danny Hay.

Source: NZFC

Parliamentary foreign relations chairman urges Solomon PM to meet Peter Hooton

Chairman of the Solomon Islands Parliamentary Foreign Relations Committee, Temotu Pele MP Martin Maga has urged the government to allow the Australian High Commissioner designate to present his letters of Commission to the Prime Minister.

Mr Maga was speaking in Parliament on the motion of sine die last Friday. He said the country's representative in Canberra Victor Ngele had already presented his letters of commission to Canberra.

Mr Maga said he saw no reason as to why government continues to delay reciprocating the goodwill Canberra has shown. Mr Maga called on the government to respect article Four of the 1961 Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations which Solomon Islands had signed.

He said this would contribute a lot to the normalisation of Solomon Islands diplomatic relations with Australia.

"The conduct of diplomatic relations as is the practice since the Vienna convention came into force is based on reciprocation. I see no reason as to why the government has to delay the presentation of the letters of commission by the Australian High Commissioner designate to Solomon Islands to the Prime Minister. I am demanding my esteem Prime Minister of Solomon islands, the man I have always accorded great respect and honour to please accept his excellency Mr Hooton to present his letters of commission to your good-self, before you leave for Australia to meet your counterpart."

Source: SIBC

PM Sogavare backs down from plan to re-arm police

The Solomon Islands Prime Minister has backed down from his controversial plan to re-arm the police.

In the face of strong opposition, Manasseh Sogavare, says arms training for the police will continue but they will not bring back guns. Instead police from Papua New Guinea will provide armed support.

"We are listening to our people," Mr Sogavare said.

Mr Sogavare has faced strong protests from churches and trade unions as well as Australia over rearming police.

They were disarmed in 2003 when regional peacekeepers arrived to end years of conflict between warring ethnic groups.

In a recent open letter to Solomon islanders, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said it was too early to consider arming police. A recent local newspaper poll showed 95 per cent support for keeping the police unarmed.

Over the past three years, Australian police under the regional peacekeeping force (RAMSI) have been responsible for providing armed protection for dignitaries, but Mr Sogavare said involving Papua New Guinea was a way forward for the country.

"Since Solomon Islanders don't want other Solomon Islanders holding guns, we are turning to other Pacific countries in the RAMSI contingent," he said.

But Mr Sogavare was critical of protests against rearming the police, saying the issue had been blown out of proportion and "the government's good intentions did not come out".

Meanwhile, RAMSI Special Coordinator, Tim George yesterday welcomed the decision by the Sogavare Government not to re-arm police at this time.

Mr George said he was very heartened by the announcement made by Prime Minister Sogavare in his closing remarks in parliament last Friday, that the Government had decided to not to go ahead with plans to rearm elements of the Solomon Islands Police Force.

RAMSI had previously made clear it did not support the plan to rearm the police.

“This decision follows an extremely robust debate and strong public opposition to rearming”, Mr George said.

“It is a very positive step that the Prime Minister has decided, as he said on Friday, ‘to listen to the people’, of Solomon Islands.”

The Special Coordinator also welcomed the Solomon Island Government’s decision also announced by the Prime Minister on Friday to take up the offer for Papua New Guinea police officers serving as part of RAMSI’s Participating Police Force to provide support to the Solomon Islands Police Force responsible for the security of the Prime Minister and the Governor General.

Mr Sogavare told parliament on Friday that a diplomatic note was being sent to PNG to accept the offer for the PNG police contingent of RAMSI to support the police’s Close Protection Unit.

“This offer from the country who is currently interim-chair of the Pacific Islands Forum is very timely”, Mr George said.

“From RAMSI’s beginning Papua New Guinea has made a large an extremely valuable contribution to the Regional Assistance Mission with its civilian advisors, police and soldiers.

Special Coordinator Tim George said it is another very good example of how the real strength of RAMSI comes from the regional nature of the mission.

Sources: ABC & RAMSI

Friday, February 23, 2007

Solomon Airlines boss suspended by the national carrier board

The Chief Executive Officer of the Solomon Airlines national carrier, Joseph Anea, has been suspended from duty effective from Tuesday.

The Chairman of Solomon Airlines Board, Martin Magga, says Mr Anea is given 14 days to challenge the allegations levelled against him.

Mr Magga would not divulge the reasons behind the suspension. However a Radio New Zealand International correspondent in Honiara says it is understood that the decision was politically motivated.

Mr Anea said several weeks ago that he was expecting to be sacked from the board and that he was at its mercy.

He says he is not indispensable but urged the Board to substantiate and justify the reason for wanting to sack him.

Source: RNZI

SI Church leaders urge government to listen to people's pleas for transparency

The Solomon Islands Christian Association is concerned the government is turning a blind eye to issues such as the re-arming of police and the long running Moti Affair.

Their comments follow a week long visit to the weathercoast on Guadalcanal which was severely affected by ethnic unrest in the country.

According to Archbishop Adrian Smith, who is the Leader of the Catholic Church in Solomon Islands and was among church leaders who visited the weathercoast, they visited and stayed in eight church communities.

During their week long visit to the churches in Weathercoast, the principal concerns that were collected from the Weathercoast church leaders include their disapproval of the government's rearmament plan of certain units in the police force; call for RAMSI to remain in the country; and call for real reconciliation.

As a result, the Solomon Islands Christian Association is calling on the government to listen to people's pleas for transparency.

Source: Pacific Beat

Classes for Solomon students at UNITECH Lae may be hampered due to striking Academic staff

Classes for Solomon tertiary students studying the University of Technology(Unitech) in Lae, Papua New Guinea may be hampered amidst a sit-out strike by the institution's National Academic Staff Association.

Student leaders at the UNITECH in Lae yesterday urged the National Academic Staff Association (NASA) and the University Council to consider the students’ wellbeing when both parities discuss solutions to the dispute.

Student Representative Council vice-presidents Samson Atai and Cathy Magalu said they were not taking sides but were concerned that their education could be jeopardised. The student leaders said they were hopeful that an agreement would be reached by the end of this week.

Meanwhile, NASA said yesterday afternoon it was still waiting for a response from the university administration. NASA president Pulas Yowat said the strike action by its members would continue until responsible authorities investigate the administration over allegations of mismanagement and corrupt practices. Mr Yowat said NASA presented evidence to the university council, showing alleged misuse of university funds and gross abuse of procedures.

Reports also revealed that some students are also facing problems with securing rooms but it is not known if that includes any Solomon Island students.

Source: PNG National

Haomae to attempt to have no-confidence motion tabled despite disqualification

The mover of the disqualified motion of no confidence against Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare scheduled for today, has vowed to exhaust all avenues on the floor of parliament to press for his motion to be tabled.

The Speaker of Parliament , Sir Peter Kenilorea, has ruled the motion was technically disqualified and will not be tabled as previously expected since the motion has not met the 7 days notice required.

The motion, moved by opposition member and parliamentary representative of Small Malaita William Haomae, was intended for debate today, but Sir Peter has ruled it did not meet the 7 days notice because it was lodged after 4:30pm last Friday.

This was the second motion of no-confidence against Mr Sogavare. The first was defeated in October after the Grand Coalition for Change government came to power in April last year.

Source: RNZI

Solomons people rated as slimmer compared to their Pacific neighbours

Solomon Islands is the slimmest country in the Pacific with an average 44.0% overweight ratio beside Papua New Guinea (30.2%), despite Pacific Islanders being rated among the most overweight people in the world.

According to a report from the World Health Organisation published in the Forbes magazine, out of the 10 fattest countries in the world, eight were from the Pacific region.

Figures obtained from the latest WHO report on showed the following rankings with Nauru topping the list as the most fattest country in the world, followed by the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Cook Islands and Tonga. The report defined 90% of their populations as being overweight or obese. The detailed ranking of all Pacific countries are as follows:

1. Nauru 94.5%
2. FSM 91.1%
3. Cook Islands 90.9%
4. Tonga 90.8%
5. Niue 81.7%
6. Samoa 80.4%
7. Palau 78.4%
10. Kiribati 73.6%
17. New Zealand 68.4%
21. Australia 67.4%
47. Vanuatu 59.6%
55. Tuvalu 56.6%
68. Fiji 54.8%
105. Marshall Islands 46.2%
115. Solomon Islands 44.0%
145. Papua New Guinea 30.2%

Solomon Islands sits at the bottom category of the fattest countries in the world with a ranking of 115 followed by Papua New Guinea on 145th position, making these two countries as the most slimmest nations in the Pacific.

The WHO report attributed the overweight status of people from high ranked countries to an increase in Western imports and substantial changes to diets.

It also linked the trend observed with the top eight fattest countries in the Pacific to their economic ties with the United States of America and New Zealand.

The report said a reliance on fatty foods that lacked nutrients and a decrease in physical labour were also among the reasons for high obesity rates.

By WHO definition, those classified as obese are people over 15 years with a body mass index (BMI) of more than 30.

PNGDF Moti inquiry to present its findings today

The Papua New Guinea Defence Force Board of Inquiry into the escape of Australian fugitive Julian Moti from PNG to the Solomon Islands last year is due to present its findings today.

The board was set up last December to find out how a PNG military clandestine plane was used to help Mr Moti avoid extradition to Australia.

The search for who was responsible for ordering the clandestine flight of Julian Moti to the Solomon Islands has dominated PNG headlines.

High-ranking government officials have blamed one another while the PNG prime minister has refused to appear before the board of inquiry.

Source:Radio Australia

Pacific experts call for adjustment to Australian attitude towards Pacific neighbours

By Shar Adams, Epoch Times Australia Staff

Pacific experts say Australia's attitude to its Pacific neighbours is presently one of impatience and irritation and unless the Federal Government show more understanding and a genuine effort to engage, relations in the region will continue to deteriorate they say.

Professor Don Denoon, a former lecturer in history at the University of Papua New Guinea (PNG), says the Australian Government was racked with division in its approach to the Pacific Island nations.

"Security studies people," he said were concerned about failed states while "the economic rationalists" concerned about "budget tabs".

The one thing that presently unites them all is an attitude of "irritation" and impatience," he said.

Dr Max Quanchi, lecturer in Pacific Islands history at Queensland's Institute of Technology agrees, saying there have been many Senate enquiries and a lot of advice given to the Federal Government, but no one has "sorted out actually what we should be doing".

Without a proactive approach to the region, Dr Quanchi says, Canberra is continually on the backfoot, reacting to events in the Pacific as they occur.

Dr Quanchi referred to the Solomon Islands whose Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare, expelled Australia's High Commissioner last year and has since refused to acknowledge Peter Hooten, the new High Commissioner. The situation has further deteriorated with Mr Sogavare now accusing Canberra of trying to run a parallel government in his country and is threatening to expel the Regional Assistance Mission (RAMSI), which was deployed in 2003 to quell ethnic riots.

Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has responded by publishing a full page letter in the local paper saying RAMSI should continue and has accused Mr Sogavare of trying to seize power and run the country at gunpoint.

Patient approach
Dr Quanchi said while both sides were growing impatient, he believes that with Australia being the dominant power, it had to be more tolerant of the pace of modernisation in the Pacific.

"Academics and scholars who study the Pacific will tell you that the Pacific Islands are working these things out," he said, "but very slowly."

Fiji is presently under military rule after its fourth coup in 20 years and the PNG has long suffered instability from party alliances and votes of no confidence but Dr Quanchi says the small island countries are doing pretty well for young nations.

"They are struggling to come up with a way to govern themselves in the democratic tradition," he said and pointed to PNG which only gained independence in 1975.

The Howard Government has adopted a rigorous approach to aid in the Pacific but has done little to engage island leaders. Prime Minister John Howard stated recently that Australian support would be conditional on "legitimate conditions" within island states.

"Those legitimate conditions are improved governance and economic reform," he told the ABC, "because in the long run, the smaller societies of the Pacific are only going to be successful if standards of governance are lifted and there is economic growth and reform."

Dr Quanchi says Pacific Island nations need support to provide those legitimate conditions and while the Australian Government looked to the Pacific Forum as a means of support in the manner of the European Union, there needed to be more interest and understanding of the complexities inherent in the region.

"The problem with the Pacific is that we are dealing with 14 independent countries," he said. "They are all different in culture and government systems, and their problems and needs are different."

What is really needed is a specific minister and department, like the French, he said: "Who go out and engage with the Pacific, rather than sitting behind desks in far away places."

Dr Quanchi said attitudes within government bureaucracy also needed to change. He says Canberra's focus had been on the Asian region and there was little interest or understanding of Australia's historic connection or responsibilities to the small island nations.

"We have [Pacific] high commissions," he said, "but they are short staffed and often the people who staff those high commissions...are doing their three years in Fiji or Port Moresby and then they are off to Canada."

"I sense we haven't really made a concerted effort to develop a massive Pacific expertise…in the university system and the bureaucracy."

Source: The Epoch Times

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Sogavare calls on opposition group to rid-off "donor dependency" mentality

By Deli Oso/PM Press Secretary

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has called on the National Parliamentary Opposition Group to get out of their ‘donor dependency’ mentality and help towards the country’s financing of its own budget.

Mr Sogavare made the call in Parliament this morning when moving the motion of Sine Die to end the current session of parliament. He said the Opposition was reeling in the thought that without donor-support the bottom up approach to development policy of the government would remain a wistful thinking.

The Prime Minister said the group was working day and night to instill doubt in the minds of MPs including those in the government bench that the budget for this year would fail.

He warned the Opposition that if Solomon Islands did not start taking up the predominant role in financing its own budget, it would never stop depending on aid.

Prime Minister Sogavare said the 2007 national budget was designed to address development issues that threaten Solomon Islands peace and security. He said the Opposition Group’s argument that the success of the budget would depend on the normalization of Solomon Islands relations with Australia was totally ‘absurd.’

“It is a very narrow-minded view. It is made without the slightest appreciation of the issues that caused the stand-off.”

Mr Sogavare also emphasized the need for proper coordination of donors’ development assistances to ensure they were properly utilized to achieve national development goals.

He said the government hoped that by July this year it should be able to finalise the national framework within which the various funding agencies should participate more transparently.

Source: Government Communications Unit

North Malaita agricultural extension officer presented with Pacific Excellence in Extension Award

A North Malaita agricultural extension officer has been selected among entries from all over the Pacific region and awarded with the Outstanding Extension Agent Award 2006.

Agriculture extension officer John Faleka who received the award yesterday is from the Northern Region of Malaita Province.

The award was coordinated by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the Pacific Islands Extension Network (PIEN). PIEN is a concerted effort to coordinate agriculture extension activities in the Pacific.

The coordinating committee included representative from Micronesia, Atoll Islands, Melanesia, Polynesia and French Territories.

Permanent Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Livestock, Dr. Israel Wore said the award was to recognize excellence in extension activities and services by men/women who reside and work in Pacific Island countries and Territories and who have made major contributions in the fields of extension, outreach and community development in the Pacific Region.

“This award aims to promote best practices, build capacity and encourage Pacific Islanders who work with communities to improve delivery of extension services. It aims to recognize initiatives by groups or individuals in the field of agricultural extension development and implementation,” Dr. Wore said.

The award was presented to Mr. Faleka by the Minister for Agriculture and Livestock, Hon. Toswell Kaua at the Fuli Restaurant in Honiara today.

Mr. Faleka, an agriculture extension officer from the Malaita Province is stationed at Malu’u, North Malaita.

This is the first time the award is given out and nominees for the award included government and non-governments extension agents.

Source: GCU

Planned motion of no confidence against Solomons PM disqualified

The Solomon Islands parliamentary opposition's notice for a motion of no confidence in the government of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, supposed to be moved tomorrow, has been disqualified.

Speaker of Parliament, Sir Peter Kenilorea says according to legal advice the notice he was given failed to meet the seven-clear days required for it to be moved. Sir Peter says since the government had already moved the sine die motion to end the current parliament sitting this Friday, there would be no time to move the no-confidence motion this time around.

Meanwhile, Special Secretary to the Prime Minister Sam Alasia says that even if the no confidence is moved tomorrow the government will defeat it as they have the full support of thirty MPs in the fifty member parliament.

However, the opposition group have also stated that if the motion of no confidence is allowed to be moved tomorrow they are confident of winning it. Edward Huniehu, Solomon Islands Opposition Spokesman for Finance and Treasury further outlines the reasons why they planned to move the no-confidence motion. These include poor and careless economic performance of the government due to bad relations with major donor partners; the proposed rearmament of certain sections and units of police; the government's continuous interference with the judiciary; and the government's handling of the Julian Moti issue.

Source: Pacific Beat

Malaita premier supports gov't re-armament plan

Malaita's Premier Richard Namo Irosaea states that his government supports the National Government's controversial decision to re-arm the Close Personnel Protection Unit of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force.

Mr Irosaea says his provincial government trusts that the Sogovare government has based its decision to re-arm the unit on valuable information and that the decision is in the best interest of the country.

He says the security of the country's top political leader is the sole responsibility of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force and that duty extends to protecting the country's sovereignty.

Mr Na'amo also says Malaita National Parliament members should work together with the current government to rebuild the nation and stop wasting the country's time in argument.

He says one year has already passed in argument and this has not benefited Solomon Islands in any way.

The Malaita Premier calls on the Malaita MP's to put the nation's interest to heart so that the country can continue with building the nation under the current government leadership.

Source: SIBC

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Alleged assasination plot case against Australian Bill Johnson dropped by Solomons prosecutor

The charges against an Australian man alleged to have plotted the assassination of the Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare have been dropped.

In January, 61-year-old Australian expatriate Bill Johnson was charged with conspiring with four others to murder Solomon Islands' Prime Minister Manessah Sogavare.

This morning in Honiara, Solomons' Director of Public Prosecutions Ronald Talasasa told the Magistrates Court the charges were being dismissed as the evidence given by two of the investigating officers at the time of the arrest did not match the statements they later made in court.

Mr Talasasa also told the court the Royal Solomons Police professional standards unit will investigate why Mr Johnson was charged in the first place.

Source: ABC News

Solomon Parliament passes 2007 budget in its third reading

The Solomon Islands parliament has passed the 2007 national budget in its third reading.

The nearly SBD$1billion dollar budget which was passed yesterday focuses on rural development.

It took more than two weeks to debate the budget in its second reading the Committee of Supply and finally passed yesterday in the third reading.

In other government businesses for this week, Prime minister Manasseh Sogavare says the Governor General's pension and benefits bill 2007 is expected to be read the third time today. Two other bills, the statistics amendment bill 2007 and the income tax amendment bill 2007 are to be read the third time tomorrow.

The Prime Minister will also move on tomorrow the motion of sine die - that parliament will stand adjourn on Friday February 23.

A motion of no confidence in the Prime Minister will also be moved in parliament on Friday being the Private members motion day.

Meanwhile, several government MPs are reportedly upset by comments by the Speaker of Parliament, Sir Peter Kenilorea.

The MPs intend to have Sir Peter removed after he advised members of parliament that it is unconstitutional to provide official vehicles to backbenchers chairing statutory authorities.

He reminded MPs of this after Infrastructure Minister, Stanley Sofu admitted in parliament that he had allocated vehicles to chairpersons of three statutory authorities.

Sir Peter reminded MPs that the only legal body to determine members’ terms and conditions is the Parliamentary Entitlements Commission.

Mr Sofu said the government has seen fit to provide the vehicles because previous administrations had done the same. He was answering a question from Opposition Leader, Fred Fono, who wanted to know why official vehicles had been allocated to the three backbenchers.

Source: SIBC

Tabling of no confidence motion against Solomons PM unlikely to take place on Friday

The tabling of a vote of no confidence motion against the leadership of Solomons Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare seems unlikely to take place on Friday.

A RNZI correspondent in Honiara says the Government has been tight-lipped on the order of proceedings of parliament for the remainder of this week, but with only three days remaining, today’s provisional order paper suggests the tabling of the no-confidence motion may be delayed.

The last agenda item of any parliament meeting is the debate on the Sine Die Motion and this will be introduced by the Prime Minister today after the Second and Third Readings of the Governors-General Pensions and Benefit Bill.

Debate on the Sine Die Motion will continue tomorrow and paliament could end after that.

Since the notice for the no-confidence motion was lodged last Friday, it requires seven days before the motion can be tabled on the floor of parliament, meaning the motion can only be tabled this Friday or any day thereafter.

The mover of the No-Confidence Motion, MP William Haomae, says it is possible that parliament might end tomorrow

He says if parliament does not continue until Friday it will show that the Government is scared of facing the no-confidence motion.

The no confidence motion is the second to be lodged against Mr Sogavare since becoming Prime Minister 10-months ago.

Source: RNZI

Death threats issued against certain Solomon MPs ahead of no-confidence motion on Friday

Police in Solomon Islands have strengthened security for some members of parliament following threats on their lives.

Police officials in Honiara say some government and opposition MPs have received threats after a notice for a motion of no confidence against the prime minister, Manassah Sogavare, was filed on Friday last week. However, police officials are refusing to reveal the identity of the MPs.

Meanwhile, reports from Honiara has stated that Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare's office, is running a so-called spy unit, to run smear campaigns against Australians and the Regional Assistance Mission.

From Honiara, the ABC radio has quoted Dorothy Wickham as stating the government has allocated around $US106,000 towards the budget of the intelligence unit, established by the prime minister's office.

It is understood that the unit has been working for a few months now. The unit was set up to satisfy the government's uneasiness about relying on police and RAMSI intelligence. Prime Minister Sogavare has previously described RAMSI as being an Australian attempt to force his government out of office.

Speculation is now rife that the "spy unit" was behind the arrest of Australian Vietnam veteran Bill Johnson on murder charges. The 61-year-old was charged with conspiring to assassinate Mr Sogavare last month, but has since been released on bail. Prime Minister Sogavare said at the time, he is worried if the case is poorly handled, it will fall into the hands of Australian officers, who could be perceived of having a conflict of interest

The Sogavare government has made no response to claims that their office is running a spy unit.

Source: Radio Australia

Bart Ulufa'alu wants Solomon Islands to be arms free

A former Solomon Islands Prime Minister and recently ousted Finance Minister in the Sogavare led regime, Bartholomew Ulufa'alu, says government Members of Parliament voted blindly to defeat the motion opposing the re-arming of the police force.

Mr Ulufa'alu says if the MPs had followed their conscience and voted on the actual issue, they would not have supported the government. Mr Ulufa'alu who was Prime Minister in 2000, was ousted by the police and Malaitan militants in a coup on June 5th after seizing control of the government armoury. He says the memory of being held at gun-point is still fresh in his mind.

"I voted in support of the motion opposing police rearmament because the memories of what happened are too fresh in my mind and therefore rearmament of police was not supported by me.

"I didn't have the opportunity to speak but had I spoken I would have stated that the rearmament plan is too earlier at this stage to be considered. In fact I am in support of the arm free Solomons. Solomon Islands should be arms free," said Mr Ulufa'alu.

Ulufa'alu also stated that rearmament of the Solomon Islands Police is not the problem, but it is the time factor that is the problem. He adds reconciliation processes are still continuing at this stage, and unless reconciliation is completed rearmament should never be considered. It can only be proposed when peace is fully restored.

Mr Ulufa'alu further confirms that other senior party leaders who oppose the rearmament plan include Job Duddley Tausinga and Francis Billy Hilly.

Source: Pacific Beat

Arnon Atomea Centre at Malu'u brings online distance learning and Internet to North Malaita

The Arnon Atomea Distance Learning Centre at Malu'u in North Malaita has been connected to a VSAT satellite broadband system this month making it possible for rural people to access internet services and distance learning courses once installation of solar power equipment is completed.

The Distance Learning Centres Project (DLCP) is an EU-funded component of the Education Sector Investment and Reform Programme (ESIRP). It is being implemented for the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development by the People First Network (PFnet) of the Rural Development Volunteers Association (RDVA). It is a 3-year project, that is now to be extended until the end of 2007.

The project is establishing a Solomon Islands SchoolNet, with nine distance learning centres located in rural community high schools in each province, equipped with broadband Internet through a newly established VSAT network. The project is working with education providers building capacity to deliver distance education in support of the curriculum, for in-school teacher training, technical and vocational training (TVET), open and flexible learning.

The centres will be run as multipurpose community telecentres, building on PFnet's sustainable rural networking experience, and are expected to have wide impacts in rural development.

Source: PFNet

Guadalcanal leaders made a clear stand on RAMSI and police rearmament plans

Provincial and national leaders of Guadalcanal have unanimously supported and requested that the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands remains in the country until it has completed its mandates.

Its mandates are stipulated under the Facilitation Act of 2003.

During a Province Coordinating and Consultative Committee last Friday the eight members of Parliament for Guadalcanal and the 11 members of the Provincial Government Executive agreed and signed a resolution on various matters.

This include the Guadalcanal leaders opposing the re-arming of the Solomon Islands Police.

The leaders also agreed that the review of the Facilitation Act 2003 should make provision for any Provincial Government in Solomon Islands to negotiate with RAMSI to remain within its area of jurisdiction.

They signed the resolution in recognition of the concerns expressed by the people of Guadalcanal Province on those issues.

The Guadalcanal leaders also noted the response by Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, to the request by the Guadalcanal Provincial Executive in relation to the issues of RAMSI and re-arming of the Solomon Islands police.

They agreed that there is a need to engage with the Government on such issues of national importance and prominence rather than attempting to create distances.

Source: SIBC

Pledge of solidarity strengthens for PM Sogavare

Seven Parliamentarians from Makira Ulawa and Temotu provinces have pledged their support for Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare against the planned no confidence motion by the parliamentary opposition.

M-P for small Malaita, William Haomae plans to move the no confidence motion in Sogavare led government this Friday.

The seven MPs who pledged support for the Prime Minister are: Japhet Waipora, West Makira; Bernard Giro, Central Makira; David Sitai, east Makira; James Tora, Ulawa/Ugi; Patteson Oti, Temotu Nende; Clay Soalaoi, Temotu Vatu and Martin Maga, Temotu Pele.

The signing of the support pledge for the Prime Minister by the seven MPs could be seen as solidarity with the Government.

It follows earlier claims by the Opposition leader, Fred Fono that he was confident he has the support from a number of Government Ministers and backbenchers to oust the Sogavare Government through the no confidence motion.

In a similar show of political strength, 13 MPs from Malaita Province including three Honiara members have also announced their support for the Government to defeat the motion.

Source: SIBC

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Sogavare denies any aid withdrawal from Canberra due to current diplomatic rift

by Deli Oso/PM Press Secretary

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has dismissed suggestions that the current diplomatic stand-off between Honiara and Canberra may affect Australian aid to the country.

Mr Sogavare told Parliament there had been no notification from Australia of any intention to withdraw their aid in view of the current diplomatic situation.

He was responding to a question from North Malaita MP, Enele Kwanairara, asking for a government guarantee that Australian aid would continue in the event of a continued ‘political standoff’.

“The question is wrongly worded, there is no political stand-off. There is a diplomatic stand-off and it’s normal,” Mr. Sogavare said.

The Prime Minister said unless the Opposition had been informed of any such intention by the Australian government, the Australian government had not notified the Solomon Islands government of any thought of withdrawing its aid. He said it would be unreasonable to allow diplomatic relations to meddle with aid assistance.

Mr Sogavare said Solomon Islands is enjoying a healthy relation with Australia despite some recent hiccups.

“This is normal in any relationship and the government is taking steps to normalise it (relationship).”

Source: GCU

Malaita MPs in Sogavare government take collective stand to oppose upcoming "no-confidence motion"

Malaita Members of Parliament in the Soagavare led Great Grand Coalition government have taken a collective stand to oppose the "no confidence motion" to be moved by another Malaita MP and opposition member Hon William Haomae this Friday.

A statement from the thirteen MPs from Malaita including the three MPs from Honiara seats, who are with the government, says they made the position clear in the spirit of Malaita culture. The statement adds the MPs will support the Sogavare led government and vote "NO" in the coming vote on the "no-confidence motion this Friday.

Instead they appealed to the intended mover, Hon William Haomae MP for South Malaita to withdraw the motion.

The government MPs from Malaita Province in the Sogavare Government also urge the people of Malaita to speak to their MPs in the Opposition not to support the no-confidence motion or better still call on the Member for South Malaita to withdraw the motion and stop disturbing government's programmes.

“Malaita people suffered enough since the ethnic unrest despite the fact that they have invested a lot in building the nation. Malaitan MPs in the Opposition should see this as serious enough not to trade off with individual political inclinations,” the signed statement said.

Malaita MPs who signed the statement included Hon. Toswell Kaua, Hon. Joses Sanga, Hon. Steve Abana, Hon. Stanley Sofu, Hon. Sam Iduri, Hon. Peter Tom, Hon. Bently Rogosomani, Hon. Severino Nuaiasi, Hon. Patrick Vahoe, Hon. Batholomew Ulufa’alu, Hon. Charles Dausabea, Hon. Isaac Inoke and Hon. Nelson Ne’e.

The statement asked four MPs in the Opposition to work closely with the rest of the Malaita MPs. The four Malaita MPs in the opposition group are MP for Central Kwara'ae who is the opposition leader, Hon Fred Fono; Leader of the Independent Group, and MP for North Malaita, Hon Enele Kwanaiara; MP for East Are'Are, Hon Edward Huni'ehu; and MP for Small Malaita, Hon William Haomae. It can therefore be speculated that only these four Malaita MPs in the opposition grouping may vote "YES" to the motion.

Meanwhile analysis from the independent MyBlog believes that the motion of no confidence will be defeated if the government maintains its number.

MyBlog indicates that a majority of people in the country would want their MPs to vote for the motion, but various factors are likely to influence government MPs voting against the the motion. Among them are maintaining political stability, and the benefits Cabinet Ministers and backbenchers/chairman of statutory organisations are enjoying which may be too good to loose.

"On the other hand, voting in the open rather than through a secret ballot would be too much for the faint-hearted. The fear of threats to any MP crossing the floor may also prevent government MPs from voting according to their conscience."

MyBlog concludes that whatever the outcome of the motion, there will be consequences both good and bad. There is an uncertain future now in the country. There is going to be much lobbying especially by the government to maintain its number over the next few days. The suggestion that money could play an influencing role in the outcome of the motion cannot be ruled out.

Speaker of Parliament raises concern on why vehicles are allocated to gov't backbenchers when not stipulated in parliament regulation

The Speaker of Solomon Islands Parliament Sir Peter Kenilorea has said backbenchers are not entitled to government vehicles.

In a letter to MPs Sir Peter says he had raised concern in Parliament why government has allocated government vehicles to backbenchers when there are no provisions for such allocation in the Parliament Entitlement Regulation 2006.

Both the Minister of Infrastructure and Development, Stanley Sofu, and Acting Attorney General, Nuatali Tongarutu have acknowledged there were no provisions of vehicles for backbenchers or any other ordinary members.

However, they said successive governments have allowed certain privilege to be awarded to other members with certain assignments while delivering their statutory obligations.

He said the present government has allocated vehicles to the Chairmen of the Investment Corporation of Solomon Islands, the Chairman of the Solomon Islands Port Authority and the Chairman of the Visitors Bureau.

The Speaker of Parliament while assisting to clarify the matter said under the Constitution, the terms and conditions of all MPs were Sections 69-A and 69-C.

Under that section the Parliament Entitlements Commission decides the terms and conditions and that no other authority has the right to make any other awards.

Source: SIBC

Monday, February 19, 2007

Ba FC of Fiji dumps Marist of Solomon Islands in first O league encounter in Honiara

The Ba Football Club of Fiji has turned the table on Solomon Islands Marist side with a 2-0 victory in their first O'League encounter which ended a few minutes ago at Lawson Tama in Honiara.

It is understood Fiji's soccer kings, Ba, has won the opening match in the Oceania Club League in front of more than 17,000 people at the Lawson Tama Stadium in Honiara. Ba silenced the frenzied crowd with goals from striker Osea Vakatalesau and goalkeeper Laisenia Tuba, who was later named man of the match and received an award from the Oceania Football Confederation for his outstanding performance in goalkeeping.

Earlier before the game, both teams were adamant of their chances as local fans flocked into Honiara from the provinces to witness the match which came as an international match at home after a while since the Socceroos and Solomons Qualifying match in 2005.

Today's match was an important one for both teams as a win will greatly boost their chances of qualifying if they win all their scheduled matches in the Group B O-League competition.

The winner of Group B will progress to a two-legged final against the winner of Group A containing defending champions Auckland City, NZFC table-toppers Waitakere United and New Caledonia's top club AS Mont Dore. Auckland City currently sits on top of Group A with 4 points, Waitakere United are second with 1 point and AS Mont Dore are currently bottom following a 2-0 home defeat against Auckland City.

Group B's fixture list has been affected by last minute travel cancellations and no games have been played as yet. Ba FC and Marist FC are heavily favoured to contest the top spot in this section with AS Temanava of Tahiti struggling to find their form domestically.

However, Ba FC is now leading the race with 3 points ahead of its match with AS Temanava of Tahiti on Friday this week. Ba will travel back to Fiji tomorrow and then fly off to Tahiti on Wednesday.

Marist FC still has to play an away match with Ba and a home and away match with the Tahiti club representative.

Solomon government appoints a Kiwi as deputy police commissioner

By George Herming

The Solomon Islands government has appointed Assistant Commissioner Peter Marshall of New Zealand Police to the position of Deputy Commissioner of the Solomon Islands Police Force.

Assistant Commissioner Marshall takes up the role replacing Superintendent Graham Emery of New Zealand Police who took up the Deputy Commissioner position in 2005. Superintendent Emery is currently Acting Commissioner.

The term of the appointment by the Solomon Islands authorities is two years. AC Marshall will take up the position later this month. Peter Marshall was a highly experienced Police officer who had served New Zealand well in a variety of challenging policing roles both here and abroad.

The Commissioner said he was sure Mr Marshall would play a valuable role in the key position of Deputy Commissioner of the Royal Solomon Islands Police.

Assistant Commissioner Peter Marshall has been a member of the New Zealand Police since September 1972. Most of his career has been with the Criminal Investigation Branch and this has involved two periods of secondment overseas.

In 1988 he was working at the New Zealand High Commission and the Australian Federal Police Headquarters building in Canberra as a police liaison officer. In that role he was responsible for co-coordinating investigations, extraditions and a variety of other inquiries.

In July 2002, Assistant Commissioner Marshall became the first New Zealand police officer based at the New Zealand Embassy, Washington DC. His primary responsibility was to interact with Federal, State and local law enforcement agencies with regards to terrorism related matters. In this capacity he covered a geographical area extending from Canada to South America.

During 1998 and 1999 the Assistant Commissioner had responsibility for planning and otherwise commanding police security for the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) series of meetings held in Auckland during September 1999. Those meetings were attended by twenty one world leaders including then President Clinton. Eighty four international protected persons were present in Auckland and approximately 2,500 police officers were under his command for those events.

He was also police operations commander for the 1999 America's Cup international yachting event held on Auckland Harbour over a five month period.

The Assistant Commissioner was also the commanding officer of the Hawke's Bay Armed Offenders Squad for a period of three years.

His efforts with regards to both the APEC and America's Cup commitments were recognized when he became a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2000.

In February 2004 he commenced duty at the Office of the Commissioner in Wellington as Assistant Commissioner (Crime Reduction and Public Safety) with responsibility for the national oversight of Crime, Operations, Youth Services, Road Policing, Canterbury and Waikato Districts as well as three nationally based Detective Superintendents. In this capacity he reported directly to the Deputy Commissioner Operations.

The Assistant Commissioner has undertaken business studies through Massey University and he is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico Virginia.

Source: GCU

Former Malaita deputy premier calls on national leaders to collectively support Sogavare's coalition government

By Brian Wanga, in Auki

Former Deputy Premier of Malaita Province Mr Malcolm Maefilia has appealed to all national leaders to put their heads together and Support the Grand Coalition for Change Government led by Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.

He made the call after eye witnessing the signing of documents allowing the surveying of Auluta basin on Saturday in Auki, Malaita Province.

“The Auluta proposed development is not a new issue and has been talked about for a very long time by previous national and provincial governments but nothing has been done.

“Until recently that the Grand Coalition for Change Government led by Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare in a very short time in office has already facilitated the signing of the documents granting surveying to take place in Auluta basin,” he said.

“This makes me and many, especially the older generation of leaders, very happy to witness”.

He further added that he was disturbed and dismayed to learn that there was a planned Motion of No Confidence tabled for this Friday by a National Parliament member from Malaita.

Mr Maefilia urged all National Parliament leaders on behalf of many ordinary Solomon Islanders to defeat the Motion of No Confidence as the Government of the day do implements its policies.

He said: “Political issues rightly belong to you in Parliament but we the common people of Solomon Islands just want to see and participate in development and we now witness the Grand Coalition for Change Government take the lead in doing something for us.”

Source: GCU

Fono confident of removing Prime Minister Sogavare in no-confidence motion

Solomon Islands Leader of Opposition, Hon Fred Fono, says the opposition grouping is confident it has the number and support to win its upcoming motion of no confidence against Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.

Mr Fono claims the group has the support of a number of government ministers and backbenchers who are unhappy with the leadership style of Mr Sogavare.

He says the government ministers and back bench MPs are only waiting to pass the 2007 budget this week before resigning from Parliament.

Mr Fono says the motion is another attempt by the opposition grouping to save the country from the downward trend it is taking.

He says the group's reasons for moving the motion are already public knowledge.

The opposition which is comprised of the three political groupings has mandated Small Malaita MP, William Haomae to move the motion this Friday.

Source: SIBC

SI Parliamentary Opposition assures nation of more attractive rural funding initiatives

The Opposition group in Solomon Islands has promised SBD$100 million in funding for rural development should they come into government.

In a communique released yesterday, the Opposition says it will increase funding for projects run by family units and communities in rural areas to 100 million dollars.

This means that each of the nation's fifty constituency receives two-million dollars each.

It says the funding will be a contribution towards the informal sector and should meet the increasing demand for rural development.

The Opposition has also announced their intention to negotiate a funding of SBD$900 million from the United State's Millennium Challenge Fund for the purpose of rural development.

Meanwhile, the Opposition Group has criticised the Government for misleading the nation with their proposed tithes to churches in this year's budget.

The Group says the 10 percent for the tithes have not been included in the 2007 National Budget. It says the government has been deliberately using propaganda and misinformation to lie to the nation.

Source: SIBC

First lot of USP SIG sponsored students flew into Fiji over the weekend

A first lot of Solomon Islands Government sponsored students at the University of the South Pacific (USP) in Suva have arrived safely over the weekend, and are currently undergoing registration before classes begin on Monday next week.

It is understood more than sixty students including both new and continuing scholars arrived at Nadi on Saturday night in a Solomon Airlines flight. Remaining students in Honiara are expected to fly to Fiji tomorrow and on Saturday.

According to the USP Calender, this week is the orientation and enrolment week for new students. So far, other regional students have already arrived in Suva awaiting commencement of semester one classes next week.

From past experiences, this coming few weeks will be a difficult time for regional students to secure off-campus accomodation as there will be a significant influx of rental property student seekers, resulting in a drastic rise in demand and costs of rental flats closer to the university. The problem is severe with SIG sponsored students as they usually arrived late and have to wait at least within two weeks before their allowance is paid.

Meanwhile, all classes at the Fiji School of Medicine where other Solomon medical students are studying are believed to have already commenced with the latest starting today.

Opposition plans to repatriate Moti to Australia and re-instate Castles and Afeau if no-confidence motion is passed

The Solomon Islands opposition have yesterday signalled their intention to repatriate Julian Moti to Australia, re-instate Shane castles as the country's police Commissioner and Primo Afeau as the country's Attorney General, if a motion of no-confidence against Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare is passed.

In a meeting yesterday between political parties in the opposition grouping, they have unianimously mandated the MP for South Malaita William Haomae to move the motion.

It is understood the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare was filed in parliament by a member of the opposition Hon William Haomae, despite no further details being released by the speaker of parliament Sir Peter Kenilorea.

The opposition group also plans to increase funding towards family and community run projects in rural areas and will immediately negotiate SI$900 million funding from the Millennium Challenge Fund from the United States.

Source: SIBC

Sunday, February 18, 2007

O League fever sweeps through Honiara as Ba FC of Fiji flies into SI today for game with Marist FC

The Oceania Football Confederation's O' Leaque fever dawns on Honiara as soccer diehards await the arrival of Ba FC today afteroon for the Group B opening match against Marist FC tomorrow.

Local promotions have also been stepped up in all media including newspapers, radio and the only local TV- One News. It's a big occasion as far as football lovers in the Solomons are concerned. The last international match was played in Honiara when Solomon Islands played host to the Australian Socceroos for a World Cup berth.

Now Solomon Islands will host the glamourous Fiji champion Ba FC in what is billed to be showdown between the two Melanesian soccer powerhouses. Planning and preparation for Marist FC's home match began shortly after the OFC announced new match schedules for Group B.

Banners promoting the O' League match are placed above the bridge leading into the city centre and the other at the Lawson Tama ground. From Friday, sale of merchandise goods for both Marist and Ba FC's have started in a make-shift stall in the car park in front of the Lawson Tama ground. All these activities plus the arrival of the OFC's soccer boss - President Reynald Temarii adds prominence to the highly charged soccer atmosphere already felt in the city.

Honiara city with a population of more than 50,000 residents is currently experiencing an influx of people from the provinces. Flights into Honiara have also been booked out with people flocking into Honiara for this one off international match.

SIFF president Martin Alufurai says it is the OFC president, Temarii who initiates the idea to replace the old competition format where all participating countries congregate in one country to the home and away system. This, he says allows soccer fans of the participating countries the opportunity to see their big name players and those of the visiting club clash before their very own eyes. The SIFF president also adds that Temarii's presence alone adds extra boost to the excitement in Honiara and urges fans and supporters to come out in numbers for tomorrow's clash.

Tomorrow's match is an important one for Marist FC and a win will greatly boost their chance of qualifying if they win all their scheduled matches in the Group B O' League competition.

Meanwhile, it is understood the Ba FC have already left Nadi around 10am (Fiji time) today in a Solomon Airlines flight transiting through Santo in Vanuatu before flying off to Honiara. The flight is expected to arrive in Honiara after 1pm (Solomon time).

Source: SIFF

Friday, February 16, 2007

William Haomae files no-confidence motion against Solomons PM

A motion of no confidence has been filed against Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.

The motion was filed by a member of the opposition and representative of the South Malaita Constituency, Hon William Haomae.

Radio Australia has reported that no further detail can be acquired from the speaker of parliament Sir Peter Kenilorea.

Meanwhile, the Solomon Islands High Commissioner to Canberra, Victor Ngele, confirms that the Solomon Islands Government would accept a letter of accreditation from Australia's new top diplomat in Honiara, Peter Hooton next week.

Mr Ngele says the leaders of Solomon Islands and Australia need to meet face to face to discuss divisions between the two countries.

"We have never said that we do not like Australia and what they are doing," he said.

"We have said we would like to be treated with some amount of respect as a sovereign country."

Mr Ngele says his government wants to continue the regional assistance mission to Solomon Island, RAMSI, but with a clear demarcation of its role.

Ties between the Solomons and Australia have been strained since the Pacific nation refused to assist in the extradition of wanted Australian lawyer, Julian Moti, in October. Mr Moti is wanted by Australian authorities to face child sex charges dating back to 1997.

Source: Radio Australia

Australian Prime Minister rebuffs Sogavare offer for face-to-face dialogue

Australian Prime Minister John Howard has rebuffed an offer to meet with his Solomon Islands counterpart, saying the two countries' foreign ministers should first attempt to repair damaged bilateral relations.

The Solomon Islands government has asked Australia to consider crisis talks between Mr Howard and Manasseh Sogavare to resolve a series of disputes that have badly damaged diplomatic relations.

But Mr Howard, in Wellington for talks with New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, said there are other avenues that should be explored first.

A spokesman for Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer earlier said the government had noted the meeting request.

In the meantime, Canberra has urged the Solomon Islands to let Australia's new High Commissioner in Honiara, Peter Hooton, do his job.

Mr Sogavare has twice cancelled appointments with Mr Hooton to present his letter of introduction.

He remains unable to carry out his full duties.

Source: SIBC

Salika urges Solomon Islands government to send facts on Moti proving that he was cleared by Vanuatu courts

By Julia Daia Bore

The Papua New Guinea Defence Force Board of Inquiry chairman Justice Gibbs Salika yesterday challenged the Solomon Islands government to send over facts and documents showing that Australian fugitive Julian Moti was acquitted of child sex charges.

Judge Salika maintained that his comment as quoted in Tuesday’s issue of the "National Newspaper" saying that the child sex charges case against Moti were not acquitted “were based on the evidence before the inquiry”.

It is understood Justice Salika made these comments yesterday in light of comments by the Solomon Islands Prime Minister’s media adviser Deli Oso, who rejected Justice Salika’s statement that Moti was not cleared by courts in Vanuatu.

Ms Oso said the SI government respected the Vanuatu court’s decision to dismiss the case as being amply exhausted and closed. She was quoted in Wednesday’s issue of the "National Newspaper" as saying she saw no reason why Australia was pursuing the return of Moti to Australia to answer to allegations that were already dismissed in Vanuatu. Ms Oso also said the whole Moti issue from Australia’s point of view was “politically motivated”.

However, Justice Salika said the PNGDF inquiry’s primary task was not Moti’s sex-charge issues in Vanuatu. Rather, it was about who sanctioned the clandestine flight that spirited Moti to Solomon Islands on October 10, last year. He added the child sex charges laid against Moti was unavoidable as the subject of the flight was Moti, using PNG’s Defence Force facilities and manpower.

Source: PNG National

Media Association of Solomon Islands did not seek PINA's opinion on Taiwan sponsorship: Ken Clark

The wrangling between China and Taiwan over the latter's sponsporship of the upcoming Pacific Island News Association (PINA) convention scheduled for May in Honiara has taken another twist after PINA president, Ken Clark revealed that they were not consulted.

Yesterday Mr Clark, who is the Fiji Television's Chief Executive Officer and the President of PINA stated that the Media Association of Solomon Islands (MASI) made the decision to accept financial support from Taiwan without consulting PINA, its board of directors or its members.

"MASI did not consult PINA, its board of directors or its members on its decision to accept financial support from Taiwan for the PINA conference in Honiara in May," said Mr Clark.

“It came as no surprise that the People’s Republic of China expressed concern about Taiwan’s involvement in the conference,” Mr Clark said.

He said PINA restated its position that it would not be involved in the controversy nor would it allow its May conference to be hijacked by any particular point of view on the China/Taiwan issue.

Source: PNG National

Howard and Clark to discuss the future of RAMSI in talks today in New Zealand

By Peter Lewis
Regional stability and trade will be high on the agenda in talks between Australian Prime Minister John Howard and his New Zealand counterpart, Helen Clark, in Wellington today.

Mr Howard was out and about early for a brisk walk along the Wellington waterfront, ahead of a busy schedule of engagements in the New Zealand capital.

Mr Howard will now hold talks with Miss Clark on a range of bilateral issues, particularly the security situation in the Solomon islands and the future of the Australian and New Zealand-backed Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).

Last night, peace activists jeered Mr Howard as he arrived for a state dinner in Wellington. The activists were protesting against Australia's support for the war in Iraq.

But the Prime Minister says it will be trouble spots much closer to home that will dominate today's talks.

"We'll actually talk a lot about the Pacific," Mr Howard said.

"We have a big and joint responsibility; we have some problem areas - the Solomon Islands, Fiji in particular. We have similar views in relation to the problems of those two countries," added Mr Howard

Source: ABC News

PNGDF board of inquiry summons PM Michael Somare to testify

Papua New Guinea's prime minister, Sir Michael Somare, is to be summoned to testify before an inquiry into the escape of wanted Australian lawyer, Julian Moti.

A PNG defence board of inquiry reconvenes later today to hear claims by the suspended PNG national security chief, Joseph Assaigo, that Sir Michael gave the order to fly Mr Moti from PNG to Solomon Islands last October.

Joseph Assaigo was suspended for his alleged role in helping Mr Moti escape.

Mr Assaigo says Sir Michael directed his chief of staff, Leonard Louma, who advised him to tell the PNG defence force officers to fly Moti in a defence force aircraft to Honiara.

However, Sir Michael Somare has sternly denied the claims.

Source: Radio Australia

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Two Rove remand prisoners escaped escort during compassionate visit

Two remand prisoners from Rove Prison in Honiara are on the run after escaping from their escort this morning.

Police Media office says the two, Stanley Gitoa and Willie Manedetea were on an escort for a compassionate visit to their family when they eluded their escort before midday today.

Police and prison authorities are conducting a search and are appealing to family and friends to contact the nearest police station if the men are sighted.

The media office says an investigation into the circumstances of the escape is currently underway.

Source: SIBC

Australia High Commissioner to SI will not present credentials until diplomatic strains are resolved

Australia's High Commissioner designate to Solomon Islands, Peter Hooton will not present his letter of introduction to the government until both Canberra and Honiara have sorted out their diplomatic differences.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare told Parliament his government wants to sort out the underlying issues that have strained the two countries relationship before Mr Hooton could present his letters of introduction to the government.

Mr Sogavare said government does not have any problems with the High Commissioner designate Mr Hooton nor his predecessor Patrick Cole. He said the issue is very much with Australia's Prime Minister John Howard and his Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer.

Mr Sogavare said his government is taking steps to arrange a face to face meeting between himself and Mr Howard.

Mr Sogavare however said it took two months for the Solomon Islands High Commissioner to Australia Victor Ngele to present his letters of introduction to Canberra.

The Prime Minister was answering a question in Parliament on why Mr Hooton had not yet presented his letters of introduction to the government.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister denies the problems between Honiara and Canberra are political. He told Parliament the issues of contention between the two countries are diplomatic issues. He says it would go against international norms and conventions for Canberra to involve in Solomon Islands politics and vice versa.

The Prime Minister also denied any knowledge of a withdrawal of Australian funding towards the maintenance of roads on Malaita under the Community Sector Program. Mr Sogavare was asked by Opposition Leader Fred Fono in Parliament if he was aware of such.

But the Prime Minister said if Australia's parallel government in Solomon Islands had communicated that to the Parliamentary Opposition, then it was news to him.

Source: SIBC

Solomon graduates from PNG in high demand at home compared to other Pacific institutions: Bata'anisia

Solomon Islands High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea Benard Bata'anisia yesterday revealed a startling statement saying Solomon graduates from various tertiary institutions in PNG are in high demand in Solomon Islands compared to those who graduated from other institutions throughout the Pacific.

“The Solomon Islanders who have graduated from PNG are always being given first priority for employment in the private and public institutions compared to other Solomon Islanders, who had graduated from other institutions in the Pacific. They receive excellent education here,” he said.

Mr Bata’anisia said 200 students would be studying in various PNG institutions this year.

“The ones under Solomon Islands government scholarship will benefit from a bilateral agreement, with the PNG Government. Under the agreement a total of 3 million kina has been given by the PNG Government for Solomon Island students for their tuition fees and allowances while studying in institutions in PNG.”

Mr Bata’anisia said PNG Government’s assistance was part of the commitment made by the two governments in 1998 for PNG to provide development assistance to Solomon Islands.

Source: PNG National

Toata Molea leads Solomon delegation to fish study visit in PNG

A prominent fisheries researcher and the chairman of the advisory council of Solomon Islands, Mr Toata Molea, is currently participating in a week long fish study visit to Papua New Guinea along with another seven countries of the central-western Pacific.

The week long fish study visit to Lae in PNG was attended by a total of eight central-western Pacific Island countries who are members of the Partners in Nauru Agreement (PNA) of which PNG is a leading member, having the largest tuna stocks and largest landmass, followed by the Solomon Islands.

During the visit, delegates have acknowledged that despite owning half of the world tuna stocks, central-western Pacific nations have benefited little from these stocks because of lack of on-shore processing facilities.

Yesterday, the team visited fishing facilities in Lae including International Food Corporation makers of Besta and Frabelle-Frescommer Ltd to see first-hand the development of PNG’s fishing industry. The local fishing industry in Morobe has taken a leap forward recently with the launching of the Fisheries Credit Facility by the National Fisheries Authority (NFA). Morobe was identified as the first province to put to trial the scheme which involves provincial fisheries, local fishing groups and private sector partner Frabelle-Frescommer.

During a luncheon presentation at the Lae International Hotel hosted by Frabelle-Frescommer Ltd yesterday, chairman of the advisory council of Solomon Islands Toata Molea praised PNG in taking lead in promoting on-shore fisheries facilities, describing the PNG tour as an eye-opener.

Mr Molea also made particular mention of the current arrangement between Frabelle Frescomar and the Morobe provincial government through NFA’s fisheries credit facility.

“We will be watching the development of the on-shore fishing facilities, and in particular the Frabelle project as a role model, and are looking at advocating this approach in our own countries,” he said.

Mr Molea revealed that most of the revenue derived from Solomon Islands fishing industry were from licensing fees given to foreign-owned fishing vessels and from taxes from their fishing operations.

The delegates yesterday were hosted to dinner by Morobe Governor Luther Wenge, which involved a briefing by the Morobe fisheries sector. They leave for Port Moresby today for their last leg of the visit before travelling to the Philippines to visit the head offices of IFC and Frabelle-Frescommer.

Source: PNG National

Somare gave directions for Moti to be flown out of PNG: former Security Director

Joseph Assaigo, former director of the Security Co'ordination and Assessment (OSCA) in Papua New Guinea, has filed papers in court admitting to giving the orders to get fugitive Julian Moti out of PNG because the directions had come from Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare.

His revealing remarks were among papers he filed last Thursday to challenge the decision of Chief Secretary Joshua Kalinoe to find him guilty of disciplinary charges laid against him over the Moti issue. He is also challenging a decision by the National Executive Council to dismiss him from his job over the controversial issue. Mr Assaigo was charged on Nov 10, 2006, following an independent investigation ordered by the Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare into the Moti issue.

In his statement to support his application, Mr Assaigo details what happened between him, Joshua Kalinoe (PNG government Chief Secretary), Michael Somare’s chief of staff Leonard Louma, and Ambassador Barney Rongap on Oct 8, 9 and 10 before Moti was secretly flown out.

He said on Oct 8, he was told by Mr Rongap that Mr Louma had advised that the Prime Minister (Michael Somare) had directed the Chief Secretary to get rid of Moti but they were not complying with the Prime Minister’s directions.

He said on Oct 9, Mr Louma expressed to him that the Prime Minister was disappointed that the order to remove Moti had not been carried out. He said that afternoon, he met and discussed with Mr Kalinoe the logistical options available to remove Moti from PNG.

Mr Assaigo said on Oct 10, Mr Louma again rang him to say the Prime Minister had given directions to him to have Moti removed. The Chief Secretary was not involved here. He said at about midday, he met Mr Louma and was directed to use either the police helicopter “Eye in the Sky” or the PNGDF Air Squadron Unit to fly Moti out.

Mr Assaigo said because of the risk involved, he was hesitant and wanted to speak with the Chief Secretary first (kalinoe), but Mr Louma became “agitated and angry” and assured him that should anything happen when he flew Moti out, he had the protection of the Prime Minister. He said he communicated the Prime Minister’s direction to acting commander of the PNGDF Tom Urr, and the order was carried out.

In his statement filed in court, he explains that in respect of security issues, the National Security Council is the supreme body, which the Prime Minister Michael Somare chairs. Below the NSC is the National Security Advisory Committee, which Joshua Kalinoe chairs. He said below the NSAC is the OSCA, which he is the director-general. He said directions can come to OSCA from NSC without having to come from NSAC.

“This is what happened in the repatriation of Moti. I was directed by the chief of staff of the Prime Minister to get Moti out of PNG. The direction was given by the Prime Minister in his capacity as the chairman of NSC, through his chief of staff, who communicated the same to me.”

He said the office of chief secretary was bypassed as Kalinoe was not around that time. Mr Assaigo has testified in the Defence Board of Inquiry, but it is understood the inquiry is seeking to obtain the papers Mr Assaigo filed in court.

Source: PNG National

Pacific Islanders should be recruited in Australian army to create cordial relationship: Analysts

Two of Australia's most respected defence analysts believe a chronic shortfall in Australian Defence Force recruits could be fixed by opening the door to Pacific Islanders wanting to emigrate.

Professor Hugh White and Anthony Bergin have called on the Australian government to look to its neighbours for new defence recruits by offering Australian citizenship in exchange for military service. The proposal has not been ruled out by Australian Defence Minister Brendan Nelson.

Professor White, from the Australian National University, said the move would create a closer, more confident relationship with troubled regional states such as East Timor, Fiji and Solomon Islands.

Under pressure to sustain overseas deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan, East Timor and the South Pacific, the Australian government wants to boost the army by 20 percent over the next 10 years - the biggest it has been since the Vietnam War.

But the Australian Defence Association says it would be "morally abhorrent" to offer citizenship in exchange for military service for Pacific Islanders. Spokesman Neil James says he questions a society which is not prepared to defend itself, and will pay foreigners to do it.

Source: Radio Australia

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Fono asks government to terminate Acting Attorney General for alleged misconduct in office

The Solomon Islands parliamentary opposition has called on the government to terminate the engagement of the Acting Attorney General because of her decision to drop serious charges against a Cabinet Minister and a relative.

Opposition Leader Fred Fono in a statement said the decision by Acting Attorney General Nuatali Tongarutu to drop the serious charges against the Minister of Commerce, Industries and Employment, Peter Shanel and her brother, Pastor Joseph Douglas amounts to misconduct in office.

And he adds if her decision had been both political and personal, then she is not fit to hold the post of the Attorney General.

It had been alleged that she made the decision when she acted as Director of Public Prosecutions in the absence of the substantial holder who was on his annual leave in the Western Province.

He said as the Attorney General is the Government's chief legal advisor, it is appropriate that a neutral lawyer should hold the post, therefore Mrs. Tongarutu's term as Acting Attorney General should be shortened.

Meanwhile, Mr. Fono joins the Transparency Solomon Islands in commending the DPP, Ronald Bei Talasasa for his courage to re-lay the charges against Mr. Shanel.

Source: PFNet

Government announces plan to hold face-to-face dialogue between Sogavare and Howard

By George Herming

The Solomon Islands Government today announced a plan to have Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare hold face to face dialogue with his Australian counterpart, John Howard to repair relations between the two countries.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Patterson Oti informed parliament today of the plan when delivering a statement on the Bilateral Relations between the two countries.

He said despite of what appears to be a very negative situation, the government remains committed to re-establishing dialogue and realigning relationship with Australia - on the understanding that due respect be afforded to executive decisions made by the government with respect to national sovereignty.

“We are at present considering all possibilities including the proposal of a one to one dialogue between both Prime Ministers in an effort to establish a degree of resolve for the purpose of improving our diplomatic relationship,” Mr Oti said.

“The Government is fully cognizant of the importance of improving the strained bilateral relations between Solomon Islands and Australia”.

Details of the proposal were already communicated to Canberra through the Australian High Commission in Honiara yesterday.

Mr Oti also announced the government’s intention to seek assistance from the Commonwealth Secretariat for possible assistance to the dialogue process.

“I will be exploring with the Secretary General of the Commonwealth Secretariat, possibilities of involving them in brokering the dialogue process,” Mr Oti said.

He said the current standoff stems from certain sovereign decisions necessary to progress the nation as an independent self governing democracy.

“What is democracy if aspects of this country’s decision making processes are constantly subjected to foreign interference?”

“It must be clearly understood that without having taken such immediate and direct action it would be nearly impossible for the government to effectively assert its mandate to govern the country.

He said a trend has been observed to be slowly developing whereby external elements, despite good or bad intentions, are slowly encroaching on matters of national sovereignty.

“These are undermining the very principles of accountability, good governance and the rule of law as fundamental elements to a democratic society.

Oti said the Solomon Islands Government will always be prepared to accept advice and criticism from its friends and neighbors through the established diplomatic channels provided under the Vienna Convention, as opposed to being engaged by Canberra in media speculation and public ridicule.

The Government is looking forward to enhancing the relationship with a government which respects the sovereign equality of States and recognizes the importance of treating each other as equals.

“We anticipate mending this relationship on the basis of mutual understanding and respect for each other’s sovereignty,” Mr Oti said

Source: GCU

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