NEW ZEALAND WARNS SOLOMONS OF AID CUT-OFF

admin's picture

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (July 6, 2000 - Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation SIBC/PINA)---New Zealand's Foreign Minister Phil Goff has warned that the Solomon Islands won't be getting any form of aid from his government until warring factions lay down their arms and commit themselves to the peace process, reports SIBC.

But he said the election of Manasseh Sogavare as Prime Minister has offered a good chance of reconciliation between the battling Malaitan and Guadalcanal militia.

Goff told Television New Zealand the international community will consider financial or military assistance only when the militia groups disarm.

New Zealand's stand against the change of leadership in Fiji and the Solomon Islands has been tougher than Australia's.

SIBC understands the governments of New Zealand and Australia are yet to send an official congratulatory message to Prime Minister Sogavare and his new Government.

Meantime, another member of the former SIAC Government has defected to the new government, becoming the new minister for Education. Government House told SIBC that Gao-Bugotu MP from Isabel Province, William Gigini, will be sworn in Thursday.

He will become the 15th Cabinet minister to be sworn into the new government of Prime Minister Sogavare.

The government has promised that its final number of ministers will be announced later this week.

Mr. Gigini is the second former SIAC Government MP to have defected to the new Coalition Government of National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace. The first, a former SIAC Minister who is still seeking approval from his constituency for the switch, has been offered the Home Affairs portfolio.

And, SIBC reports that fourteen ministers, including the Prime Minister, are settling in after the government for National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace was formed five days ago.

Offices have been re-arranged for the new ministers and calls have been made for various ministerial workers to return.

Prime Minister Sogavare moved into his office on Monday.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace, Allan Kemakeza, is hard at work this week holding various meetings.

SIBC news understands that Mr. Kemakeza held meetings with senior Police officers and Solomon Islands Christian Association representatives yesterday and held meetings with Non Government Organizations Wednesday.

He is expected to lead a delegation to meet the Guadalcanal Provincial Premier, Ezekiel Alebua, Thursday in efforts to set a date for ceasefire talks between the warring factions on Guadalcanal.

The government caucus is expected to adopt the new government's program of Action 2000 to 2002 at its first meeting Thursday.

But the Government Caucus Office told SIBC the Independence anniversary holiday this Friday is likely to delay the release of the Program of Action until next week.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare had promised, following his swearing-in at Government House last Friday, that the program would be released within seven days.

He said the new government will soon have in place a 100 days Working Program.

The program is aimed at achieving various things, including the restoration of law and order, compensation money, surrendering of arms by both militant groups and the granting of amnesty to militant members.

It hopes to return peace and normalcy to the Solomon Islands, recall friends from overseas, re-establish confidence in the economy and re-open the Gold Ridge Mine, SIPL and the logging industry.

The program also aims to revitalize the public service, ensure freedom of movement and re-open schools and clinics in Honiara and throughout Guadalcanal.

But Mr. Sogavare stressed that this can only be achieved with the cooperation of everyone in the country.

And finally, SIBC reports that the Non-Government Organization Peace Committee has established an office, called the NGOs for Peace to coordinate its efforts in bringing peace to the country.

The Secretary-General of the NGO Umbrella Organization, Development Services Exchange, Casper Fa'asala, has confirmed that a meeting was held this morning to identify short and long term plans to bring peace back to the country.

Those attending the meeting included representatives from diplomatic offices in Honiara.

Mr. Fa'asala revealed that the efforts of the NGOs have attracted international support.

Already the World Wide Fund for Nature, which has its office in Gizo, has contributed $5,000 toward programs planned for the next six months.

The NGOs Peace Committee will launch its program this Saturday in Honiara.

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 

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment