AUSTRALIA DISAPPOINTED IN NEW SOLOMONS CABINET

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (SIBC, May 5) – Newly elected Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has described the critical comments leveled against his appointment of two parliamentarians in police custody as Cabinet Ministers as a serious act of interference with the domestic affairs of Solomon Islands.

In a press statement, Mr Sogavare refers to criticisms of his action by Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister, Alexander Downer as a breach of the Vienna Convention which governs diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Mr Sogavare says the Convention also forms part of Solomon Islands law which governs diplomatic privileges and the Immunities Act of 1978.

Mr Downer criticised the appointment of east Honiara Member of Parliament Charles Dausabea as Minister for Police and National Security and Central Honiara Member of Parliament Nelson Ne'e as Minister for Culture and Tourism.

Both men are being held in police custody and will appear in court this week on charges relating to acts of violence, looting and destruction in the capital Honiara two weeks ago.

The Australian Foreign Affairs Minister described the appointments as a disgrace, demeaning the integrity of Solomon Islands locally and internationally.

But Mr Sogavare said both Mr Dausabea and Mr Ne'e are still innocent until proven guilty in court.

Radio Australia reports that Australia's foreign affairs department says it is deeply disappointed with the appointments. It says they have come at a time when Solomon Islanders had been hoping to be able to restore their faith in the country's leadership.

A foreign affairs spokesperson says Australia plans to make representations to the government expressing its view that the appointment to cabinet of individuals facing serious criminal charges will have damaging repercussions for the standing of Solomon Islands in both the regional and international community.

May 8, 2006

Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corp.: www.sibconline.com.sb

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