Debate Heats Up Over Solomons Political Party Integrity Bill

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Lilo, Sogavare face off over reference to similar bill from years past

By Elliot Dawea

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Sept. 19, 2013) – The controversial Political Party Integrity Bill 2013 debate started off yesterday with heated exchanges between Solomon Islands Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo and Opposition MP Manasseh Sogavare.

Mr. Sogavare, who is also the chairman of the Bills and Legislation Committee, started off the debate by referring to the bill as "unconstitutional."

He drew prime minister out of his chair when he said a similar bill the last CNURA government brought to parliament was defeated through Mr. Lilo’s influence.

"The CNURA government’s version of this bill was defeated by the renegade members of that government led by none other than the present prime minister," Mr. Sogavare charged.

Mr. Lilo stood up and told Mr. Sogavare to debate in the context of the current bill and stop referring to the previous one.

But Mr. Sogavare, himself a former prime minister, insisted there’s nothing wrong referring to the previous bill so that he could inform parliament and the nation of the government’s real intention behind the bill.

The exchanges between the two leaders turned sour when Mr. Sogavare instructed presiding deputy speaker Job Duddley Tausinga to "tell the prime minister to shut his mouth" so that he could continue his debate.

Mr. Tausinga stepped in and told Mr. Lilo to sit down.

Mr. Sogavare questioned why Mr. Lilo was not comfortable with his views on the bill.

"This is a government bill and those of us from the Opposition must express our alternative views.

"The prime minister has all the time to reply to the debate when he winds it up," he said.

The debate on the bill, which aims to bring political stability to the system, continues today.

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