FOUR SOLOMONS LAWMAKERS EXPLAIN SWITCHEROOS

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‘Important programs needed competing’

By Ednal Palmer HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Feb. 18, 2011) – Smiles were obvious and were flashing on the faces of members of the government group when they welcomed the four members who moved from the opposition to rejoin the government.

The four members, James Tora, Mark Kemakeza, Martin Sopaghe and Walter Folotalu, were sworn in yesterday at the government house.

Three of the four, Mr Tora, Mr Kemakeza and Mr Sopaghe were no strangers to the government, as they were originally members of the government.

However, resounding two to three times at different times before the Governor General that "in all things, be a true and faithful member of the cabinet" has given rise to question of whether that oath has a meaning to them.

James Tora initially resigned from the government to join the opposition, and now back to rejoin his comrades.

Ask why he decided to resign at the first place and rejoins the government again, Mr Tora said he was not happy with a number of issues when he was with the government.

"I was not happy with a number of issues, so I resigned from the government, but I decided to rejoin because I saw a number of important programs (in my ministry) I left that needs to be completed."

Asked what issues he was not happy with when he was with the government, he said one was that of the police commissioner’s post.

"The cabinet initially approved a paper for the post, but I think the PM was influenced so the matter changed, but I strongly believe that the post must be localised."

Mr Tora said he decided to rejoin the government because the Prime Minister had assured him that the issues will be looked into.

Mr Kemakeza and Sopaghe had crossed the floor four times in the past few weeks and their reasons they must stick together when moving.

Mr Sopaghe said he was convinced that the budget needs to be passed.

"Previously I promised not to move back to the government but now I think it is important that the budget is passed because the budget belongs to the people of this country."

Mr Kemakeza did not clearly explained the reason he decided to move back to the government but said he has to move with members of his group that made up the NCRA.

When the media insisted that he give the reason why he decided to move back, he said "in politics, that’s not how you put it, we move together".

Asked if they are serious to remaining with the government, the two said "we think we will not cross the floor again".

Mr Walter Folotalu said he deserted the opposition because he wanted to see some of the NCRA policies which attracted him fulfilled.

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