Wednesday, 12 December 2007 9:07 AM

Solomons Government Claims Kidnap of Minister Koli

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare accused the Opposition Group for the kidnapping of the recently resigned Minister for Communication, Aviation and Meteorology, Johnson Koli.

Mr. Sogavare, in a statement, said "agents of the Opposition Group" kidnapped Mr. Koli while he was in his constituency for a funeral service.

"... [Mr. Koli] was taken against his will to sign a prepared resignation letter," the Prime Minister stated.

Mr. Sogavare claimed that three public officers were among those who executed the abduction.

The Prime Minister held responsible the former Minister for Fisheries and Marine Resources, Nollen Leni, as the mastermind behind the kidnap.

He said it was unfortunate that the Opposition had resorted to committing crime to secure the number to overthrow the government.

Mr. Sogavare said that accusations from the Opposition group of government resorting to threat to maintain support was "really the opposite way around".

The Prime Minister stated that he and the Minister for Police and National Security had discussed the matter and decided to dispatch the police to investigate.

But the Opposition leader, Fred Fono, has denied allegations that his group had kidnapped Mr. Koli.

Mr. Fono instead told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program that whoever is responsible of staking such an allegation to report the case to police.

The Opposition leader said that Mr. Koli, who has been a strong member of the opposition, never left the group until two weeks ago when he was forced by the agents of government.

Mr. Fono revealed that the Opposition now has the support of 25 MPs while the government has 23.