23 Sep 2004

Solomons provinicial premier reacts to alleged raid

5:06 pm on 23 September 2004

There are reports in Solomon Islands that the Guadalcanal Provincial Premier, Waita Ben, plans to close the provincial administration indefinitely following what he described as an unlawful raid in his office.

The Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation is reporting that the external auditor, Bane Paulsen, confiscated all official documents and 32,000 dollars in cash from the office.

Our correspondent, Dorothy Wickham, says the incident may be linked to reports that Mr Ben has recently paid large sums of money to the former premier and former militants.

Sources say the former premier, Ezekiel Alebua, received more than 40,000 US dollars while Harold Keke and his brother, Joseph Sangu, were each given more than 25,000 US dollars.

Dorothy Wickham says it looks likely the two reports are related.

"His grabbing all these documents and papers that he got from the Premier's office seems to indicate he wants to make public some form of payment or transaction that took place between Guadalcanal province and some other people that he was not happy about."

Dorothy Wickham says the Premier has yet to comment on the allegations.