SOLOMON ISLANDS CARETAKER PM ULUFA‘ALU SAYS NO GUARANTEE OF SAFETY FOR

NEXT WEEK'S MEETING

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (June 22, 2000 – Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation/PINA Nius Online)---Caretaker Prime Minister Bartholomew Ulufa'alu says unless there is a neutral force, there will never be any guarantee for the safety of MP's attending next Wednesday's meeting of Parliament to appoint his successor, reports SIBC.

He said unless their safety is guaranteed, then what guarantee is there that MP's will not be taken hostages like what happened in Fiji recently.

Mr. Ulufa'alu said his government is calling for a meeting with the Malaita Eagle Force (MEF) and the Isatabu Freedom Movement (IFM) to get guarantees from them that if MP's attend the meeting they will be safe.

Mr. Ulufa'alu is also seeking a meeting with the Leader of the Opposition, Mannasseh Sogavare, to sell him the idea of different factions in Parliament nominating one candidate each for the post of Prime Minister.

This is to ensure that the election of the Prime minister is democratic and not pre-determined.

SIBC also reports that the Solomon Islands Public Employees Union, SIPEU, is negotiating with the government to have public officers go on suspended leave instead of unpaid leaves. This followed a circular last week allowing public servants the option to go home on unpaid leave.

But the Secretary General of the Union, Clement Waiwori, says the option is inappropriate according to labor laws because only the employee can ask for unpaid leave.

He says if the government goes ahead with the plan, many of the families will be worse off in their own homes because they won't have money to survive.

Mr. Waiwori says if the government agrees to suspended leave, public servants can be paid when the situation and the government finances improve.

 

EUROPEAN UNION HOLDS ON TO THEIR MONEY FOR SOLOMONS

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (June 22, 2000 - SIBC/PINA Nius Online)---A number of European Union funded projects in the Solomon Islands have stopped, reports SIBC.

The projects include the STABEX 1998 program totaling $ 210 million for rural development, an additional $4 million in support of structural adjustments for urban road infrastructure and $15 million for micro projects, a new concept for community based projects.

A statement from the European Union Commission office in Honiara says none of the projects will be considered for signature until further notice. The statement explains that the action was taken because conditions for their successful implementation are no longer there, handicapped by the damaging impact of events of the current ethnic unrest.

The delegation of the European Commission in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands says it's concerned about the damaging impact the events have on the lives of Solomon Islanders.

It says the Commission is closely monitoring the political and economic events and appeals to all parties to settle their grievances through dialogue rather than through violent and unconstitutional means.

The European Commission also commends the initiative taken by women’s groups in the country to assist in resolving the conflict peacefully.

On a related matter, Solomon Islands Ambassador to the European Union Robert Sisilo is representing the country at the signing of the partnership agreement between them and the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries in Cotonou, Benin.

The signing takes place this Friday, June 23.

The Solomon Islands has been a member of the ACP group since 1979 and has benefited in infrastructure, agriculture and rural development from the EU.

Assistance through Stabex facilities of the Lomé Convention has helped to enable Solomon Taiyo to export its products under preferential terms to EU markets, including the United Kingdom.

The new ACP-EU Partnership Agreement to be signed in Benin in West Africa will succeed a series of Lomé Conventions approved since 1975, the last of which ended in February of this year.

The signing should have taken place in Fiji but the hostage crisis there quickly forced the EU to find an alternate venue.

The EU has warned the Solomon Islands that it may withdraw its $210-million in assistance to the country if democracy is not restored.

For additional reports from the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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