26 Apr 2006

Solomons PM Rini resigns - commerce minister Sogavare promised top job

1:37 pm on 26 April 2006

There have been celebrations in the streets of Honiara after the Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Snyder Rini, resigned in the face a no confidence motion.

When Parliament met this morning five members of the Rini administration had moved to the opposition benches, giving them 29 votes to the government's 19.

With two opposition politicians in remand for inciting last week's unrest, the numbers were believed to be 24 to 24.

But there has been a swing to the opposition after the commerce minister, Manasseh Sogavare, was promised the prime ministership.

Last week, Mr Sogavare, who was prime minister for just over a year after the 2000 coup, was third in the first round of voting to choose a new prime minister.

Job Dudley Tausinga had most votes but in the second round Mr Rini was elected with the backing of those who had voted for Mr Sogavare.

Mr Tausinga told our correspondent Dorothy Wickham the opposition is now prepared to back Mr Sogavare to head the government in the interests of keeping order in the country.

"He told me that if it is to keep the peace in the country, if it is to keep the country happy he is willing to head over the prime ministership. It's all about keeping order - that's what he said to me."

The vote for prime minister is expected on Monday.