Monday, 12 November 2007 9:23 AM

Solomons Govt in Political Crisis

The Solomon Islands Grand Coalition for Change Government face political crisis following the mass resignation of government ministers and backbenchers.

Nine ministers and three government backbench MPs yesterday resigned from Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare's Grand Coalition for Change Government.

A Memorandum of Understanding signed between the former government MPs and ministers and MPs in the Parliamentary Opposition stipulates that they no longer have confidence in the leadership style of Sogavare.

Among them are senior ministers including the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Public Service, Toswell Kaua, Justice and Legal Affairs Minister, Gordon Darcy Lilo, Education Minister, Dr. Derek Sikua, and the Minister for National Planning and Aid Coordination, Steve Abana.

Backbenchers include Nollen Leni, Stanley Festus Sofu, Sam Iduri, Mark Kemakeza, Patrick Vahoe, Peter Tom, Martin Sopage, Martin Magga and Trevor Olovae.

The Opposition signatories include the Leader of Opposition, Fred Fono, Snyder Rini, Seth Gukuna, Edward Huniehu, Milner Tozaka, Peter Boyers, Laurie Chan, David Day Pacha, Selwyn Riumana, Varian Legumana, Enele Kwanairara, Francis Billy Hilly, Johnson Koli, Job Duddley Tausinga and William Haomae.

"If the said Manasseh Sogavare failed to resign as Prime Minister within seven (7) days from the date of this MOU ... we further petitioned that HE the Governor General to immediately invoke the reserved powers vested in the Governor General to call a special meeting of Parliament to decide on whether or not the Hon. Manasseh Sogavare still enjoyed the majority support of members of Parliament to hold the Office of Prime Minister," the MOU said.

A delegation of the defected ministers and government backbenchers took the MOU to Government House yesterday to discuss with the Governor General, Sir Nathaniel Waena, the need to call for an urgent meeting of parliament in the next seven days to test their numbers in a possible no-confidence motion in the prime minister.

Speaking at a press conference in Honiara, Mr. Abana, who pulled the string on calling for the resignation of the Prime Minister, said more MPs will desert the government.

"There are still MPs in the Parliament who will come to sign and the number will continue to increase," Mr. Abana told journalists yesterday. "This shows how serious we are."

But an unmoved Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare told local journalists that he still has the support of MPs in his government and that he will not resign.

Mr. Sogavare insists that he is elected by Parliament and "only Parliament can vote me out".

The Prime Minister said he has yet to receive resignation letters from the nine ministers.

Mr. Sogavare said the letters were addressed to the Governor General, not the prime minister.