26 Jan 2011

Latest Cabinet defection prompts more calls for Solomons' leader to go

4:29 pm on 26 January 2011

One of the ministers who's defected from the Solomon Islands government says the Prime Minister should step down, now a fifth cabinet minister has resigned.

Police Minister James Tora is the latest minister to walk out of the Danny Philip-led government.

That reportedly leaves the government with only 23 MPS, and gives the opposition a majority with 25 MPs.

The former fisheries minister Bodo Dettke, who crossed the floor last week, has confirmed the opposition has sent a signed petition to the Governor General seeking the recall of parliament.

He says Danny Philip should show the country that he is not hungry for power and resign.

"If the law allows a minority government to rule this country well - He should demonstrate that he is also a noble man to step down. I mean it's not only him, there's a few other credible members of parliament that I'm sure could also do a good job as prime minister."

Bodo Dettke

A spokesperson for the Solomon Islands prime minister says Danny Philip still believes he has a majority despite another resignation.

Police Minister James Tora is the latest minister to walk out leaving the government with only 23 MPS, and giving the opposition a majority with 25 MPs.

The Prime Minister's press secretary, Alfred Sasako says that majority will only be tested if the opposition brings it to a vote when parliament resumes in March.

He says the submission by the opposition asking the governor general to recall parliament early has no legal basis according to advice he has received

The governor general can only intervene when there is an insurrection like we had during the coup in 2000, so that parliament could pass emergency laws. Whereas now, perhaps there may be a crisis on the political level, but that is not reason to recall parliament.

Alfred Sasako says James Tora has informed the government he resigned because he owes Bodo Dettke money, and will return to the government once he's repaid his debt.

But Mr Dettke denies that claim, and allegations made by the Prime Minister that he owes the government millions in tax and failed to deliver on an airfield building project.