20 Aug 2003

Solomon Islands opposition says instability is within government ranks

4:54 pm on 20 August 2003

The Solomon Islands opposition is denying that it is attempting to persuade government MPs to defect, amid an alleged plot to depose the prime minister.

An opposition spokesman, David Tuhanuku, says the destabilisation is coming from within the government's own ranks after an MP, Casper Luiramo, resigned from the Alliance of Independent MPs, its junior coalition partner.

Mr Luiramo was the backbencher accused by the prime minister, Sir Allen Kemakeza, of offering bribes to three ministers to switch sides.

The MP has rejected the allegations, claiming instead that the government is being manipulated by Tommy Chan, the Alliance president and the father of the foreign minister, Laurie Chan.

Mr Tuhanuku says the rumour is that Tommy Chan wants to see his son, Laurie, take over as prime minister.

Mr Tuhanuku also says there have been contacts between the opposition and government MPs but the instability is coming from within its own ranks.

"When it comes to any possibility of the government collapsing, I would not go as far as that, but I think that there are indications that there is some discontentment, if I could put it like that, within the goverment and Mr Luiramo's resignation and open letter to the President of the party, I think, is an indication that there might be discontentment within the government."

Solomon Islands opposition spokesman, David Tuhanuku.

The prime minister says he's investigating the issue but won't make any comment at this point about possible actions he may take.