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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (March 12, 1999 - Radio Australia)---The Office of the Solomon Islands Attorney General has refused to accept a request from Prime Minister Bartholomew Ulufa‘alu to settle out of court a claim by a local building firm against the government.

Radio Australia correspondent George Atkin reports:

"Mr. Ulufa‘alu was a consultant to the building firm before he became a Member of Parliament in 1997.

"The building firm has claimed compensation of more than US$ 68,000 from the government because the government prematurely terminated a contract to build a school in Temotu Province under a World Bank project.

"The firm was contracted to build the school for US$ 55,000, but funds ran out without the school being completed.

"Meanwhile, opposition leader Solomon Mamaloni has asked the Prime Minister to declare his business interests, saying Ulufa'alu has a conflict of interest.

"In the Solomon Islands, national leaders are required to declare their business interests to the Solomon Islands Leadership Code Commission.

"George Atkin, Honiara."

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