The Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Hon. Gordon Darcy Lilo has expressed condolences on behalf of the Government and people of Solomon Islands to the family of the Solomon Star Publisher, Fr. John Lamani.

Mr. Lilo said he had learnt with great shock of the demise of Fr. Lamani whom he described as a statesman and the father of independent journalism in Solomon Islands.

The Prime Minister said Fr. Lamani was also the first to introduce direct journalism from Government support to private sector driven.

Fr. Lamani left the Government in 1981 and started the Solomon Star a year later, and in the past 30 years he had trained many of the country's leading journalists.

Mr. Lilo said Fr. Lamani had introduced a lot of Solomon Islanders to professional journalism through the establishment of Solomon Star.

He said for the past 30 years as a publisher, Fr. Lamani was an agent of democracy, speaking out for freedom and ensured that governments were accountable to the people.

But, Mr Lilo said, Fr. John had also always distinguished and played his role as a real journalist and stood by the principles he always believed in.

At his death, Fr. Lamani was a life-member of the Pacific Islands News Association, a 40-year-old organization that he also help founded.

Mr. Lilo also commended Fr. Lamani's commitment to charity work in the country, describing his efforts as somebody who never ran out of support.

The Prime Minister also spoke highly of Fr. Lamani's contribution to the Church as a priest in the Church of Melanesia.

Mr. Lilo said he will be attending the sending-off service today at the All Saints before Fr. John's body is taken to Auki in the morning.