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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, August 3) – At least three ministers are being asked to resign or face the sack, the Solomon Star has established.

The three are Gordon Darcy Lilo (Planning & Aid Coordination), Francis Billy Hilly (Commerce) and Toswell Kaua (Mines & Energy).

Well-placed Government sources told the Solomon Star yesterday the three have been issued with letters asking them to resign.

But we were not able to ascertain the reasons behind the action.

This latest development was the first sign of a rift within the multiparty Grand Coalition for Change Government.

The Prime Minister’s Office was however, tight-lipped on the issue.

"We were told by the Prime Minister that we are not going to issue any statement on this," Director of Government Communications Unit Alfred Maesulia responded when asked by the Solomon Star about the issue.

When contacted yesterday afternoon, Special Secretary to the Prime Minister, Sam Alasia said party leaders were meeting about the issue.

"Yes, there’s something certainly going on at the moment, but party leaders were currently having a meeting on that.

"I cannot say anything unless I’ve spoken to the party leaders," Mr Alasia said.

The coalition is made up of the Nasanol Pati, Solomon Islands Party for Rural Advancement, SoCred, Solomon Islands Democratic Party, Liberal Party and a number of independent MPs.

Secretary to the Prime Minister and Cabinet Dr John Roughan said he knew very little about the development.

But he confirmed that "there’s something going on".

Attempts by the Solomon Star to speak to any of the three ministers were not successful.

But one of the three told the national radio, SIBC, last night that he received a letter from Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare asking him to resign.

He was quoted, as saying that one of the reasons given for his forced resignation was the Taiwan/China issue.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sogavare is to go on a state visit to Taiwan next week.

A large delegation of ministers, government backbenchers and officials are to accompany him.

During the trip, he will call on the Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian.

Foreign Affairs minister Patteson Oti is currently in Taiwan on an official visit. He is expected to return next week.

August 4, 2006

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