SOLOMON ISLANDS COUNCIL OF TRADE UNIONS ALLEGES WIDESPREAD CORRUPTION

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (December 14, 2000 – Radio Australia)---The Solomon Islands Council of Trade Unions alleges there is widespread corruption in the country, especially in government.

The claim follows a statement by Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare in Parliament that his government had recruited 28 new people in the past six months.

The Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation quoted Mr. Sogavare as saying that those hired include legal advisers, politicians and research officers.

SIBC reported that Mr. Sogavare said the jobs weren't advertised, claiming that would have slowed down efforts to achieve peace in the country.

However, the President of the Trade Unions Council, David Tuhanuku, said corrupt practices have resulted in a lot of inefficiencies in the government system.

"There's widespread corruption in Solomon Islands," Mr. Tuhanuku said. "Sometimes it's very hard for you to prove it, but everybody talks about it. If you look at a key component or key institution in the country such as the public service, I think it's common knowledge, too, in the Solomon Islands that it is full of political appointees rather than professionals.

"And as a result," Mr. Tuhanuku emphasized, "there are a lot of costly inefficiencies in the public service."

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

 

DISPLACED ISLANDERS PROTEST IN HONIARA

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (December 14, 2000 - Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation/PINA Nius Online)---Hundreds of people from Temotu province surrounded the Ministry of National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace in Honiara yesterday. They demanded that they be paid displacement allowances.

The gathering was in protest over the alleged failure by the government to live up to its promises to provide payments for people displaced during the two-year Guadalcanal-Malaita ethnic conflict.

Some of those talked to said only those traveling back to Temotu yesterday were paid allowances.

SIBC News has not been able to confirm how much the government paid.

Meanwhile, the government hopes to pay compensation early in the new year to the first group of people who lost their properties on Guadalcanal.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace Allan Kemakeza gave the assurance while answering questions raised by opposition MPs.

He said a report on compensation claims will soon go before the Cabinet, and hopefully the government will pay the first group early next year.

Mr. Kemakeza reminded Solomon Islanders that the government is broke, and it will take time for it to find the funding necessary for the compensation as well as ongoing services.

But he assured the people that the country's development partners -- including Australia, Taiwan and the European Union -- have indicated help in compensating for lost properties and also for rehabilitation projects.

In other news:

* The Amnesty Bill under the Townsville Peace Agreement is expected to be tabled in Parliament before the current session adjourns.

The Townsville Peace Agreement provides immunity from criminal prosecution for members of the Malaita Eagle Force and the Isatabu Freedom Movement over actions taken during the conflict on Guadalcanal.

The bill extends the amnesty to civilian advisors who acted for and on behalf of the militant groups.

It will also cover members of the police and prison services who participated in the takeover of Honiara on June 5.

The Minister of Police and National Security, William Haomae, is expected to move the Bill next week.

* Meanwhile, a mass arms surrender is due to be held in Auki, Malaita Province, on Friday.

Peace Agreement Implementation Advisor Andrew Nori confirmed that former Malaita Eagle Force members living in Honiara will march to the Point Cruz Wharf with their weapons and board a boat to go to Auki.

Mr. Nori said on arrival at Auki they will be joined by former Malaita Eagle Force members there to hand over weapons to representatives of the International Peace Monitoring team.

He said that although the surrendering of arms is not occurring as fast as he would have wanted, he is optimistic that the Friday deadline will be met.

He also warned that members of the former militant groups might be excluded from any immunity if they hold on to their weapons after Friday's deadline.

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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