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‘Serious allegations’ will be investigated

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Oct. 29, 2010) – The Commission of Inquiry into Land dealings on Guadalcanal is to be suspended, the Office of the Prime Minister announced yesterday.

[PIR editor’s note: Guadalcanal is the largest island in the Solomon Islands and is well known for World War II between the Japanese and Americans. Honiara, the capital city is located on the north coast of the island.]

"Serious allegations have been made and as a responsible government that we are, it is felt the only way to deal with this is to suspend the inquiry," a spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office said.

"Accordingly, the Commission of Inquiry into Land Dealings on Guadalcanal is suspended for two months with immediate effect. Given the gravity of the allegations coming from within the Commission of Inquiry itself, we believe the decision to suspend it is warranted and provides an opportunity for everyone including staff members whose names have been linked to these allegations to clear their names," the spokesman said.

The spokesman said the temporary reprieve [suspension] would give the Government time to investigate the range of allegations that the Counsel Assisting the Inquiry, Ruth Townsend, had made.

"This is an Inquiry which was set up by the previous administration. The decision by the Government to suspend it for two months is intended to ensure that the good intention of the Inquiry for a positive outcome is preserved," he said.

A Taskforce would be put together to undertake this assignment.

Depending on the outcome of the investigation, the Commission of Inquiry into Land Dealings on Guadalcanal should resume after New Year.

Meanwhile the Government said the other body; the Commission of Inquiry into Russell Islands Plantation Estates Limited (RIPEL) would be suspended indefinitely in line with the National Coalition for Reform and Advancement [NCRA] Government’s Policy.

"The Government has made it clear from the outset that it wants a new investor for RIPEL, hence we’ve taken the position that the Inquiry should stop to help save costs," the spokesman said.

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