FOUR SOLOMON ISLANDS CABINET MINISTERS RESIGN

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Prime minister’s alleged abuse of Taiwan aid funds cited

By Jeremy Inifiri and Eddie Osifelo HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Nov. 10, 2011) – Three Government Ministers last night officially resigned from the National Coalition for Reform Advancement (NCRA) Government, pledging their allegiance to the Opposition ahead of the motion of no confidence to be moved in Parliament tomorrow.

They are Clay Forau - Minister for Police and Justice, Connelly Sandakabatu - Minister for Agriculture and Livestock and Mosses Garu – Minister for Mines and Energy.

[PIR editor’s note: The Solomon Star today reported that a fourth cabinet minister has tendered his resignation from the government of Prime Minister Danny Philip - Minister for Public Service Ricky Hou.]

This move is understood to be related to the alleged abuse of more than $7million of $10 million allocated for 2011 under the discretionary fund by the Republic of China government.

In their letter of resignation, the Ministers stated they no longer have confidence in the leadership of Prime Minister Danny Philip and his government.

The three Ministers stated that they consider the actions of the Prime Minister to be misuse of funds, abuse of office and intent to deceive Cabinet.

"It is already public notice but the actions of the Prime Minister as head of the executive are indeed very sad. That he chose not to consult his ministers in the first place about the funds would indicate he did not have any regard for us, and when he did that he deceived Cabinet his real intent. That the use of these funds has been revealed was by pure chance.

"I consider this action to be misuse of funds, abuse of office and certainly he had intended to deceive Cabinet.

"By all standards Hon Danny Philip has brought shame and disrepute to the Office of the Prime Minister, the Government and our country.

"His actions have severely tarnished the reputation and image of all of us his Cabinet colleagues. I consider this to be a serious breach in his personal judgment, let alone as Prime Minister and Head of the Executive branch," resigned Minister for Police and Justice and Member of Parliament for Temotu Vatu, Forau said.

Resigned Minister for Agriculture and Livestock Connelly Sandakabatu last night said his job with the NCRA government was done, referring to the arrival of 400 cattle from Vanuatu this week, pledging his support to the Opposition group ahead of the motion on Friday.

Opposition Leader Dr. Derek Sikua welcomed the resignations adding that the Ministers have made a bold move in the best interests of the nation.

He said that such move showed that they are serious about their roles in representing their constituencies and also bring changes to the nation.

Sikua meanwhile said he is expecting four other Ministers of the NCRA government to tender their resignations today and join the Opposition.

"Four other prominent Ministers are expected to tender their resignations today and join up with their colleagues and other former backbenchers in the NCRA government," Dr Sikua said.

He said that the number in the Opposition camp has increased from 29 to 31 with the signing of memorandum of understanding last night.

"This will indeed cement the support behind our motion to be moved on Friday," the Opposition Leader said.

Meanwhile a well placed source said the three leaders Bodo Dettke, Steve Abana and Opposition leader, Dr Derek Sikua have settled their differences yesterday.

Dettke was believed to lead the group of backbenchers who the Government claimed recently to release them due to their reluctance to follow its rule.

The backbenchers were James Tora (MP for Ulawa Ugi), Stanley Sofu (MP for East Kwaio), Douglas Ete (East Honiara), Mark Kemakeza (Gela) and Selwyn Riumana (Hograno, Kia, Havulei).

Abana whose group recently decided to sit back and watch the political bickering unfolding between Dettke’s faction and the Opposition had come into play now.

His group included Minister for Public Service, Ricky Hou, Minister for Communication, Andrew Hanaria, Minister for Justice and Legal Affairs, Clay Forau, Minister for Agriculture, Connelly Sandakabatu and backbenchers, Peter Tom (West Kwaio) and David Tome (Baegu Asifola).

Our source said the group had iron out their differences yesterday afternoon and should have signed a memorandum of understanding last night.

"The group decided to stick together until the motion of no confidence because they have no trust of Prime Minister Danny Philip," our source said.

"They said the Prime Minister had allegedly misused most of the $10 million funding of solar panels to own his family, cronies and constituents which denied their constituent’s allocation.

"This is the reason why we decided to merge together to test the PM on the floor of Parliament," our source said.

The group needs a majority of 26 votes from the 49 seats in Parliament to defeat the motion of no confidence.

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