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By Joy Rikimae

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Jan. 7) – Former Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare gave approval to his ministers to buy the Government vehicles they were allocated, a lawyer representing them says.

William Rano, of Pacific Lawyers, wrote to new Prime Minister Dr Derek Sikua.

He told Dr Sikua the ex-ministers have been advised to hold on to the vehicles despite demands they return them.

He also warned that they are prepared to take the matter to court to be decided.

Dr Sikua’s Government says the Sogavare ministers have not been given approval to buy the vehicles. They must return them immediately for use by the new ministers, it says.

The former Ministers are believed to be: Patrick Vahoe, Patteson Oti, Nelson Ne’e, Isaac Inoke, Clement Kengava, Charles Dausabea, Rev.Leslie Boseto, Peter Shannel, Siriako Usa, Severino Nuasi, Bernard Giro, Japhet Waipora, and Mr Sogavare.

Mr Rano said they are instructed Mr Sogavare, in consultation with the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Infrastructure and Works, approved their application to buy the vehicles.

Mr Rano wrote: "We noted that the approval by the former Prime Minister was made pursuant to his powers and discretion under section 39(5) of the Members of Parliament (Entitlements) Commission(Amendment) Regulations 2006."

Mr Rano said this is the same as former Deputy Prime Minister Toswell Kaua. He had bought the government vehicle allocated to him under the same provisions, Mr Rano said.

He said his clients are waiting final assessments on the value of the vehicles from the Ministry of Transport and Works.

He said: "In view of the above, we have advised our clients to maintain legal custody of the vehicles until this matter is settled amicably or by the court."

Mr Rano said his clients have instructed him to apply to the High Court for interim orders for temporary possession pending the final determination.

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