Tuesday, 20 November 2007 1:52 PM

PM Sogavare Clears Further Opposition Allegations

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has rejected further allegations against him by the Opposition Group in its second paid advertisement in the Solomon Star.

The Opposition group claimed in the advertisement that Mr Sogavare wanted to rearm the police for his own personal security, interfered in the Justice and Legal system and awarded contracts for the Millennium Challenge Corporation bid and the recently announced cabinet housing estate out off the proper procedures.

It also suggested that personal legal fees of the MPs for East and Central Honiara, Mr Charles Dausabea and Mr Nelson Ne'e, respectively, and the Minister for Finance and Treasury, Francis Zama should have been borne by the MPs themselves and not the government.

But responding to the paid advertisement this afternoon, Mr Sogavare said the allegations were fabricated by the ring leaders of the government defector MPs to give substance to their campaign to oust him from power.

He said his Grand Coalition for Change Government had made its position on the issue of rearmament very clear and that was to get the full approval of the people through the proposed review of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, as mandated by parliament in its last sitting before implementing its proposed rearmament programme for the Solomon Islands Police Force.

On the allegation of interference into the Justice and Legal system, Mr Sogavare said he was fully aware of his powers as head of the Executive Arm of the Government and their extents and never at anytime did he intrude into other arms of the Government.

He said the claim that he ordered the former Acting Attorney General to dismiss charges against the Attorney General, Julian Moti and a person the Opposition referred to as a brother of the former Acting Attorney General was a total lie.

The Prime Minister said he had nothing to do with the case and the Opposition Group's allegation implied to him that it did not believe that the law could be properly and successfully applied to achieve such victorious result.

As for the allegation on the award of the Millennium Challenge Corporation consultancy contract, Mr Sogavare said the contract was awarded by cabinet to an accredited consultant and that engaged consultant presented a professional job.

He said the consultant was involved in getting Vanuatu's application to the MCC approved.

On the Cabinet Housing Estate, Prime Minister Sogavare said the cabinet was yet to award the contract to any building constructor and the Quitales Property Limited, which the Opposition claimed to have been given the contract, only submitted its expression of interest to the Minister for Infrastructure Development after hearing the tender announcement.

The Prime Minister said the claim that he was intending to benefit from the deal was simply outrageous because it was simply contrary to his principles.

As for the decision to engage private lawyers to represent Government Ministers, backbenchers and the Attorney General, Mr Sogavare said it was a decision of the cabinet, which the defector Ministers were part of and furthermore, the government was obliged to pay for the legal fees of its MPs and also the Attorney General.

The Prime Minister said judging from the lies and misinformation contained in the advertisement, one would be fully justified to conclude that the government was dealing with a group of Parliamentarians who were determined to get what they wanted through dubious means.

Letters to the Editor All Letters
By STEVE BANI Vura Heights, East Honiara
By GEOFFREY MAURIASI USP, Lacuala Campus, Fiji
By CHARLES KOULI Gizo, Western Province