18 Dec 2002

Two expatriate public servants expected to return to Solomon Islands

11:35 am on 18 December 2002

Two highly placed expatriate public servants in Solomon Islands are expected to return to the country despite departing hastily over the weekend following security concerns.

Finance secretary, Lloyd Powell, and Rob Solomon, an advisor to the prime minister's office, took a chartered flight out of Honiara the day after the PM, Sir Allen Kemakeza, had shots fired at his house by a group of special constables.

The special constables are also known to have threatened staff of the finance ministry.

Mr Powell says he's had guns poked at him and knives pulled on him and that fundamentally he was unable to run the ministry.

New Zealand's deputy high commissioner, John Mataira, says the two did speak to the high commission before their departure which came three days ahead of their scheduled commercial flight.

"Both decided to excellirate schedule leave plans in the weekends because the government had come under fairly severe pressure last week, particularly the prime ministers office, and neither Lloyd Powell nor Rob Solomon, wanted to put themselves under any difficult circunstances."

Mr Mataira says despite the events of last week and the expected vote of no confidence in the government, he doesn't believe the security situation has deteriorated.