15 Sep 2006

Solomons' leader says Australia worried inquiry will find RAMSI negligent during riot

5:29 am on 15 September 2006

The prime minister of Solomon Islands, Manasseh Sogavare, says he is mystified at the concerns of Australia and New Zealand over his government's commission of inquiry into the April riots.

He says he stands by his decision declaring the Australian High Commissioner, Patrick Cole, persona non grata, despite threats from Australia over aid and it making entry to Australia difficult for Solomons' politicians.

The Australian foreign minister has said the inquiry could undermine court cases against two former cabinet ministers accused of inciting the riots and try to shift blame onto the police.

But Mr Sogavare says the inquiry is about good governance, transparency and finding out what went on.

"I don't know what Australia is grumbling about and I think their real concern is that the commission of inquiry might throw out some negligence on the part of RAMSI officers and if that is the case then the inquiry is serving its purpose."

A spokesman for Mr Sogavare says Mr Howard is welcome to visit the Solomons for discussions and to hear the Solomons' point of view.