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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, May 30) – The Solomon Islands government regards constitutional reform as one of its pressing issues and will pursue a timetable for adopting a new constitution forthwith. This policy is contained in the Policy Framework Document, which was released Thursday last week.

The document said, "The Government will pursue the Constitutional reform so as to move governance and decision making authority closer to the people, while promoting Diversity in Unity through the transfer of powers and functions to the periphery."

It said the people’s desire to adopt a Federal system of government in Solomon Islands has been a long-standing one but in recent years it has gathered fresh momentum towards its fulfillment.

"The leadership, both in Government and Opposition, is not divided on this issue. The Grand Coalition for Change Government will, therefore, thoroughly review the Draft Federal Constitution so as to encompass the autonomy aspirations of Solomon Islanders, and agree on a timetable for the adoption of the new Constitution for Solomon Islands," the document said.

It said the process would take into account the interests of all stakeholders in the reform. Such a reform should not be allowed to place future states in disadvantageous positions. The present top-heavy status quo will, nevertheless, be changed as powers and functions are transferred to the proposed states.

The government will thoroughly review and revise the Draft Federal Constitution so as to properly accommodate the autonomy aspirations of the people, with specific focus on the rights and ownership of resources and fair distribution of revenues between the Central and Provincial governments.

The statement also said that Parliament would be sought to agree on a timetable for the introduction of a federal constitution.

In addition, the government will introduce legislation to regulate Members of Parliament moving from one political party to another so as to ensure political stability in the nation.

The government will ensure that each and every Ministry formulates a legislative program that will facilitate the implementation of the Grand Coalition for Change government policies and programs.

Government will put in place transitional arrangements for Provinces in terms of human resource capacity development and institutional strengthening in preparation for the introduction of the proposed federal government system.

The policy document states that the government will discuss with the development partners provisions for enhancing the transfer of powers, functions and human resources to the Provinces or States.

May 31, 2006

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