Tuesday, 13 November 2007 11:07 AM

PM Calls for Calm as Govt Resolves Political Turmoil

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare called for calm as his Grand Coalition for Change Government works strategically to address the political crisis affecting Solomon Islands.

Mr Sogavare made the plea yesterday following the swearing in of three new government ministers.

The three were former government backbenchers defected to the opposition group last weekend along with nine other MPs.

The trio returned to the government after realizing their desertion was based on fabricated and misleading statements.

They are the MP for North Guadalcanal, Martin Sopaghe who is now the Minister for Infrastructure Development, the MP for Temotu/Pele, Martin Magga, Minister for Justice and Legal Affairs and the MP for South Vella La Vella, Trevor Olavae, Minister for Development Planning and Aid Coordination.

The ringleaders of the defected government MPs and the Opposition Group are calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Sogavare.

But Mr Sogavare rejected that call saying he had done nothing wrong that would warrant his resignation.

The Prime Minister said Solomon Islanders must take heart that they were in the safe hands of the government.

He said as a responsible government, the Grand Coalition for Change Government would work strategically to resolve the confusion-stemmed political crisis.

The Prime Minister said the resignation call was based on misleading statements about his housing loan with the ANZ Bank and non attendance of this year's Pacific Islands' forum summit.

He said some of the defected government MPs alluded their desertion of the government to the loan.

Mr Sogavare said his lawyers were suing the National Express for publishing the fabricated statements about the loan as well as those responsible for making the statements.

The Prime Minister said his absence at the forum leaders' summit in Tonga last month was based on a cabinet decision to protest the forum's endorsement of the Pacific Island forum eminent persons review report on the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands.

He said the report did not address the review's key term of reference requiring that the new review of the Facilitation of the International Assistance Act, which allowed RAMSI into the country, be based on the six-point plan of the Solomon Islands government.

The Prime Minister said the forum actually endorsed the report before the Pacific leaders' summit and it was no use attending when the he could not contribute to the approval of the document.

The Prime Minister expressed optimism that the defected government MPs would realize having being misled as the days go by and the government door was open for their return.

Meanwhile, the Governor General Sir Nathaniel Waena yesterday rejected a petition by the new coalition of defected government MPs and the Opposition Group for him to intervene in the political crisis by calling an immediate parliament sitting to test if Prime Minister Sogavare still enjoyed the majority support of the house to remain in power.

Sir Nathaniel said unless the current political situation developed into a constitutional crisis it would be unconstitutional for him to recall parliament for the tabling of a motion of no-confidence against the Prime Minister.

Under the Solomon Islands constitution only the Prime Minister or Cabinet can advise the Governor General to call parliament. The Governor General only can unilaterally call parliament to sit in the event of a constitutional crisis.

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