10 Mar 2003

Senior Solomon Islands government officials flee harassment

5:04 pm on 10 March 2003

The Solomon Islands Government says it is searching for its third permanent secretary of the Finance Ministry, after Luma D'Arcy fled Honiara more than three weeks ago.

Mr D'Arcy had gone into hiding after being harassed and man-handled by special constables, who had been demanding unauthorized payments.

He had only been in the position a matter of weeks after the sudden departure of Lloyd Powell in December.

Mr Powell had also been harassed by special constables.

The Prime Minister's Office says Mr D'Arcy has not indicated whether he will return to the post, but it says the Government is looking for a replacement.

The functions of permanent secretary had been fulfilled for part of Mr D'Arcy's absence by the Accountant General, Cyril Tebauwa, but last week he also went into hiding after being threatened by a police man.

Our correspondent says Mr Tebauwa had been harassed by a regular officer in the newly created elite STAR unit.

The Ministry's office has been closed for the past week.