Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo has challenged a special meeting of provincial team leaders of the constitutional congress to aim towards achieving a constitution that meets the expectations of the people.
Mr Lilo said it is important that the constitution is responsive to the needs of the people, as well as having regional and international credibility.
“NCRA wants to enact a constitution that is relevant to our country and satisfactorily addresses the many socio-economic challenges that our country faces. We want a comprehensive home-grown constitution that accommodates all Solomon Islanders and effectively address their diverse interests,” he said.
“At this advance stage of review, I expect all of you to proficiently identify the areas of concern and to propose appropriate solutions.”
Mr Lilo said as experienced prior to independence, and ever since independence, Solomon Islanders have increasingly realised that the political order under the current constitution is based on the assumption that we are a socially cohesive homogeneous society and one that can be centrally governed.
However, Prime Minister Lilo said the independent constitution, in the eyes of many Solomon Islanders today, does not accommodate local values and structural realities.
“In fact it has made redundant the political identities of Solomon Island Communities – tribal nations – which are the most relevant and legitimate institutions in our people’s lives, which led to a former Prime Minister Solomon Mamaloni to write that Solomon Islands was a nation conceived but never born,” Mr Lilo said.
The Prime Minister adds that the NCRA Government believes that the most critical issue is to bring about political reform, to rectify the perceived political and economic imbalances and ensure there is state unity.
“Various reviews of the independent constitution since independence (4) all agreed on creating a federation for Solomon Islands in substitution of the unitary model, inherited during independence. This was evident that three consecutive Governments have maintained a strong commitment to the vision to ensure the constitutional process be a transformative exercise in the reconfiguration of the Solomon Islands State,” Mr Lilo highlighted.
The Prime Minister said in supporting this exercise, the NCRA Government has demonstrated this in the strong budgetary support given to the Constitution Reform Unit (CRU) to ensure the Constitutional Congress and the Eminent Persons Advisory Council have the financial resources.
“We have also supported the important task of finalizing the draft text of the federal constitution of Solomon Islands which was mandated to the two technical committees by the Cabinet.
“As some of you are aware of, the Government has engaged the services of two Constitutional experts and a legal draftsman to audit the current working text and advice Congress in its deliberations,” he said.
“It is anticipated that one of the experts will be present to guide the National Convention in the bargaining of the text that will lead to the final output of the Reform Process. The Outcome from the National Convention will be later endorsed by the Congress before it is delivered to the Cabinet by early next year.”
Mr Lilo said the experts are expected under their Terms of References (ToR) to provide clear explanation of the entire text to the Attorney General and Cabinet to assist them in their deliberations on the document as well as during the parliamentary process to promulgate the bill into law.
Press Release: PMO