SOLOMONS MINISTER CALLS FOR POLITICAL PARTY SYSTEM

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By Jeremy Inifiri

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Feb. 2, 2008) – The Solomon Islands need to adopt the Political Party System to avoid a repeat of the 2006 April riot, says Minister of Environment and Conservation Gordon Darcy Lilo.

Mr Lilo said this is the best option for Solomon Islands.

"This way people are more involve and participate in choosing the prime minister," Mr Lilo said.

The Minister was speaking before the Commission of Inquiry into the 2006 April riot yesterday.

He said in the party system the party with the majority automatically forms the government and its leader becomes prime minister.

But he warned that for that to happen there is need to resource these parties.

"To prevent then from turning to the elite people here in town whereby this would eventually result in lobbying which seems to be the cause of the 2006 April 18 riots," Mr Lilo said.

The riot started following the announcement of Snyder Rini as the country’s new prime minister.

Mr Lilo, who was among the MPs camping at Iron Bottom Sound Hotel at that time, denied claims the riot was organised.

Mr Lilo said no Member of Parliament was involved in the planning, organisation and execution of the April 18 riot.

Mr Lilo also refuted claims by Medley Kwalemanu and Galorick Irota.

Both men had earlier told the inquiry that MPs at the Iron Bottom Sound Hotel collected money to pay for water and food for the rioters.

Mr Kwalemanu and Mr Irota told the inquiry that they are among those providing security for the MPs at the hotel.

They told the inquiry that the MPs promised to pay them $20,000 if their group came into power.

But Mr Lilo said no such promises were made to these men.

Instead he condemned what happened on April 18 saying "I myself was surprised at what happened".

"This was the first time anything of such had happened. We (MPs) were ourselves surprised. We did not expect that the situation would turn out the way it did," Mr Lilo said.

When asked why his group left parliament ahead of Snyder Rini’s group, Mr Lilo said they had to leave because they lost the elections.

"We don’t want to be there. Why should we be there? he asked.

"We had two well structured police forces - Participating Police Force and the Solomon Islands Police Force on the ground that were capable of handling the situation."

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