Monday, 17 December 2007 6:17 PM

Government's Prime Minister Candidate Pledges Reconciliation as Priority

Solomon Islands' government candidate for the Prime Minister position, Patteson Oti, pledges reconciliation will be priority if elected for top post next week.

In a press conference today, Mr. Oti pledged that reconciliation between the people of Guadalcanal and Malaita provinces will be accorded the "highest of priority" if his government comes into power.

Mr. Oti said that much has been done by the Grand Coalition for Change Government to prepare communities on Guadalcanal and Malaita for reconciliation.

He described accusations leveled at the government by the Opposition's nominee, Dr. Derek Sikua, as "unfortunate" and driving a wedge between the people of the two provinces concerned.

In moving the no confidence motion last Friday, Dr. Sikua accused individuals in the government of being involved in the June 2000 coup.

Mr. Oti said such "unfounded accusations" had sent the wrong signal to the people of Solomon Islands at a time when the main objective should be "to unite our people".

"It is rather unfortunate that the Opposition's candidate for the position of Prime Minister started on the wrong footing from day one," Mr. Oti said.

In expressing his disappointment, Mr. Oti said that such unfounded accusations has "flagged community division and disharmony".

He said that instead of starting on "a sensitive and compassionate note", the Opposition's candidate "has drawn a road map to divide our people".

Mr. Oti said such division will only end in disaster and the country cannot afford to have such a leader.

He informed the press conference that the GCC government, in their effort to reconcile Guadalcanal and Malaita provinces, have committed funding and had advanced reconciliation amongst the communities on the Weathercoast, west of Guadalcanal.

Mr. Oti said that this is part of preparation towards broader reconciliation between Malaita and Guadalcanal.

He emphasized on the need for "urgent measures" to be taken to address the issue of immediate reconciliation.

Meanwhile, Mr. Oti said an open debate has been proposed to take place tomorrow with the Opposition's candidate, Dr. Sikua.

Mr. Oti said that the open debate will be for the public's benefit in understanding who the candidates are in the lead up to this week's election for new Prime Minister.

He challenged that his rival take part in the event and declining will indicate lack of confidence.

Mr. Oti appealed to the people of Solomon Islands to support the government's new initiative on reconciliation as "everyone has a part to play".

He also urged everyone to "stay away from trouble and do not take law into your own hands".

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