19 Sep 2006

Solomons leader expects riot inquiry to begin next month

7:50 pm on 19 September 2006

The Solomon Islands prime minister, Manasseh Sogavare, says he hopes a commission of inquiry into the April riots will be able to begin next month.

The plan to hold an inquiry is at the centre of a diplomatic row with the Australian government which fears it will be used to get two MPs off charges of provoking the riots.

Mr Sogavare is undeterred by the opposition.

He has dumped controversial Australian judge Marcus Einfeld as one of the commissioners and intends replacing him with a second Papua New Guinean.

Mr Sogavare says he is waiting for PNG prime minister, Sir Michael Somare, to give his approval of which officials he can spare.

"We were actually looking for two. So they have given me one name already but I really need to talk with the prime minister to give me one more. As soon as that is done we are looking at October or thereabouts."