PNG High Commissioner To Solomons ‘Still In Charge’

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Yombon-Copio claims only PNG Cabinet can revoke position

By Douglas Marau

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Jan. 17, 2013) – Papua New Guinea high commissioner to Solomon Islands Brian Yombon-Copio says he is still in charge.

Mr. Yombon-Copio cleared the air following reports there are currently two heads for the PNG high commission in Honiara.

This paper understands Mr. Yombon-Copio, who was appointed by the PNG National Executive Council, has reportedly been recalled and replaced by PNG foreign affairs officer Sakias Tameo.

But yesterday Mr. Yombon-Copio in an email to the Solomon Star said he was the commissioned head of mission and he is still in charge of the office in Honiara.

"Only PNG cabinet can revoke and terminate my appointment for not performing my duties especially in maintaining and strengthening the relationship between PNG and Solomon Islands," he said.

It is understood the internal diplomatic bungle between the two foreign affairs officials for the PNG office is already causing confusion for both governments as there are misunderstandings as to who to listen to and who the legal head of mission is diplomatically.

It is also understood PNG government officials are also not sure who to present their issues to – some of which are crucial at this time as differing instructions have been put out by the two on who to report to.

Meanwhile, the Post-Courier newspaper reported that according to clarification sought from the government and the PNG Prime Minister’s office yesterday, appointments and revocation of appointments of high commissioners and ambassadors, or heads of missions, is the prerogative of the National Executive Council (cabinet).

"Therefore technically speaking, Yombom-Copio still remains as the high commissioner of Solomon Islands to represent PNG until such time Cabinet revokes his appointment," the Post-Courier reported a PNG official as saying.

The Post-Courier reported that PNG has not sent a diplomatic note to Honiara advising of the changes made regarding the two heads of missions; and no requests or advice, according to protocol, to the Head of State for any changes as the head of mission is obliged to pay a courtesy call on several leaders. Therefore, Mr. Yombon-Copio remains the high commissioner.

Mr. Yombon-Copio, since taking up his role in August 2011, has done a lot in creating job opportunities for locals as well as strengthening ties between PNG business houses in the country.

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