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Disappearance of panel’s report from file raises suspicion

By Ednal Palmer HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Feb. 1, 2012) – In the Solomons, a highly suspicious and mysterious activity is having a detrimental impact on the integrity of the process of selection of a new police commissioner.

The selection panel’s prepared report has been removed from the file.

A well placed source said the report was inserted in a file and was forwarded to the Prime Minister a few weeks ago.

"The report was removed from the file God knows when, where and by whom," the source said.

He said someone with vested interest has no doubt is involved.

"This is a serious issue which will no doubt put under question any selection of any new police commissioner.

"This goes to show how some people want their preferences in the top police job so that the force can easily be manipulated. This is absolutely a serious breach of trust in the process."

Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo yesterday denied in parliament having any knowledge of the missing report.

"When I got the file, it was empty. There was no report in it, so I ordered that the file be taken back," Mr Lilo said.

He said as much as people would want the post filled urgently; he is also anticipating a swift remedy so that the post can be filled.

"This is a very important constitutional post because it deals with national security, therefore we will do all we can to resolve the matter, but to assure the public, we will have a new police commissioner soon.

When the Prime Minister was further scrutinized by the Aoke Langalanga MP Mathew Wale, on what advice the Attorney General’s Chamber has given and steps taken to restore the credibility and integrity of the process, Mr Lilo said he will leave the matter for the AG Chambers to deal with.

Last year, former Prime Minister Danny Philip confirmed receiving the report from the panel.

Mr Philip said he could not act on the report because he vacated the office.

The selection panel comprises the former Governor General Sir Nathaniel Waena, Chairman of the Leadership Code Commission Emmanuel Kouhota, High Court Judge James Apani and Ruth Liloqula.

Five people applied for the post were interviewed, namely the acting police commissioner Walter Kola, Assistant Commissioner Edmund Sikua, under secretary of the Ministry of police Johnson Siapu and two foreign nationals Frank Short (former RSIPF commissioner) and John Langely.

The police commissioner post was left vacant since New Zealander Peter Marshall left to take up New Zealand’s police top job in early 2011.

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