12 Jul 2006

Ontong Java leaders to push for secession from Solomon Islands

7:14 pm on 12 July 2006

Leaders of Ontong Java in the Malaita Outer Islands say they will push to secede from Solomon Islands and become an independent nation.

A spokesman, Gabriel Kemaiki, has told the Solomon Star newspaper that a petition calling for independence would be submitted to the government soon.

Mr Kemaiki says their islands have been neglected for far too long.

He says it seems that Ontong Java is part of Solomon Islands in name only.

He says the islands have no shipping service or medical clinics and schools are not operational.

Mr Kemaiki says his people have been ignored and being left out by the government in Honiara and the only way forward is to become a separate nation.

The Malaita Outer Islands, which consisted of Sikaiana and Lord Howe islands, are part of Malaita Province, which has separately been pushing for some form of independence for a number of years.

The Outer Islands population of around 3000 is mostly Polynesian.