Friday, 16 November 2007 9:28 AM

Lilo's Allegations of Interference Lame and Childish

Political Appointee within the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Mr Robson Djokovic staunchly denied allegations levelled against him by the former Minister of Finance and Treasury Hon Gordon Darcy Lilo.

Mr. Lilo has alleged that he (Mr Djokovic) had continually interfered with the Minister's duties and responsibilities.

Mr Lilo cited Mr Djokovic's interference in their Ministerial mandates as one of the main reasons for his defection to the Opposition camp.

Mr Djokovic however denied the allegations, which he termed as dubious and lacking substance.

He said as a political appointee, his powers do not surpass the constitutional powers of each individual Minister and thus he cannot interfere with their roles as Ministers.

"I categorically deny and condemn the accusations made against me with regard to interference of the Minister's duties as I have never had anything directly to do with any of the resigning Minister's in an official capacity apart from the former Finance & Treasury Minister due to my appointment with ICSI and involvement with the emergency phase of the April Disaster including subsequent efforts to support the recovery process in conjunction with the Ministry," Mr Djokovic said.

He added that the statements made against him by the former Minister of Finance are completely unfounded and have no basis due to the fact that his duties do not extend to the level of Ministers and Caucus.

Mr Djokovic however maintains he has no say in the executive decisions Ministers.

He said to imply that his interference with Ministers constitutional roles was "a weak and lame excuse, which circumvents taking responsibility as a leader".

"As a political appointee I am completely expendable therefore why use me as the main reason for wanting a change of leadership?"

Mr Djokovic said his revolves around making sure the government of the day is informed on happenings and events within the government.

The allegations on "interference" therefore fell short of his role as a political appointee, which only revolves around informing and supporting the government with relevant facts.

"My duties involve working in support of the Government under the directives of the Prime Minister to ensure that as the leader of a nation he is fully informed of all activities taking place around him."

"Whether wrong or right good or bad it is his (Mr Manasseh Sogavare) prerogative as Prime Minister to have reliable and factual information on which he can base his decisions as a leader, what is the former Finance Minister's problem with that?" Mr Djokovic asked.

"The fact that the Member for Gizo/Kolombangara is using the resignation of Ministers because of my interference as the excuse for their mass defection from the Coalition Government proves that the former Finance Minister has ulterior motives behind this move against the Prime Minister which is being hidden from the public."

"Otherwise the Minister would be clarifying exactly what responsibilities I have interfered with," he said.

"If the former Finance Minister can prove that I have acted beyond the scope of my responsibilities, then I will immediately tender my resignation," said Mr Djokovic.

Mr Djokovic however has pointed out a number of projects Mr Darcy undertook that were dubious in nature, and which he described may potentially amount to "political interference" during his capacity as the Finance Minister.

These includes the problems surrounding Solomon Airlines, accountability about the progress of the recovery and rehabilitation process in the Western and Choiseul Provinces, demanding of the Acting Commissioner of Forests to grant logging licences, and assuming responsibility for direct allocation of government vehicles.

Mr Djokovic added that Mr Lilo's political career, whether in the Opposition or the next ruling government, will always be tinted with "cloak and dagger" tactics, as he had already displayed these characteristics during his last tenure.

"Whatever miracle the Member for Gizo/Kolombangara thinks he can perform by assuming power in a new Government will lack transparency and accountability as has been the case in his former capacity as Minister for Finance and Treasury," he said.

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