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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (January 6, 2002 - Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation/PINA Nius Online)---The Solomon Islands National Council of Women has voiced its disappointment, questioning why no women have been appointed permanent secretaries by the new government.

General secretary Ruth Maetala told SIBC News that women she had spoken with are concerned and shocked.

Ms. Maetala said this is despite new Prime Minister Sir Allan Kemakeza assuring her that women would be included at his government's decision making levels.

She said the government's decision to exclude women now reflects how it sees women -- as not fit to take on national responsibilities.

She said that including women in a government is vital for the peace process and national unity, as well as nation building.

There are no women in the 50-seat Parliament following the defeat of all 14 women who contested the general elections last month.

The only woman in the previous Parliament, Hilda Kari, lost her East-Central Guadalcanal seat to Nolen Leni, a former Guadalcanal province deputy premier.

She had served two terms in Parliament and had been the country's only woman parliamentarian since independence in 1978.

In East Malaita, prominent former civil servant Joses Sanga edged women's activist and former journalist Afu Billy by two votes.

The general election was the first following the Townsville Peace Agreement, which ended two years of Guadalcanal-Malaita ethnic conflict.

The country faces financial crisis, a troubled economy and continuing law and order problems.

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: 

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