SOLOMONS OPPOSITION LEADER DENIES BRIBERY

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By Campbell Cooney

SYDNEY, Australia (Australian Broadcasting Corp. June 13) – The leader of the Solomon Islands opposition party has admitted making a payment that has been described as a bribe.

After Solomons Prime Minister Manesseh Sogavare accused him of trying to bribe one of his ministers with just over US$7,000, parliamentary Opposition Leader Fred Fono's only comment was that he was investigating the claim.

Late yesterday Mr Fono admitted making the payment to the still-unnamed minister.

But he says it was not a bribe but a response to a plea from the minister for financial help to pay his sons' school fees in New Zealand, and he has written evidence of this.

Mr Sogavare described the move as a "disgusting strategy" to overthrow his "God-protected coalition Government", and says seven of his ministers have been targeted with such approaches.

ABC News Online: http://www.abc.net.au/news/ © 2006 ABC. All Rights Reserved

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