9 Feb 2007

Solomons reiterates its sovereignty to Australia

7:41 pm on 9 February 2007

The Solomon Islands government says it wants to send a fresh message to Australia that it can handle its own affairs.

The Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare told parliament today he was offended that Australia's foreign minister wrote directly to the Solomon Islands people via a letter in their national newspapers.

In it Alexander Downer said obstacles were being put in front of Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomons and he warned against the government's plans to re-arm the Solomons police.

But Sogavare's press secretary, Deli Oso, says the prime minister believes the move was undiplomatic.

"What he is trying to establish here is that Australia should respect the sovereignty of Solomon Islands"

and allow the government to decide on the people of this nation rather than Australia telling us what to do.

Deli Oso says the view is that Mr Downer should have reserved his comments for the Australian parliament, or

the Solomons foreign ministry.

She says its believed that Mr Downer's behaviour proves that Australia is running a parallel government in the country.