27 Aug 2013

Civil Society groups in Solomons continue to push PM to resign

5:09 pm on 27 August 2013

Civil society groups in Solomon Islands say they will relentlessly push for the prime minister to resign, after he rejected their claims as 'ridiculous'.

The groups, including Forum Solomon Islands International, Anti-Corruption Network of Solomon Islands, Solomon Islands National Teachers Association and Malaita Ma'asina forum, urged the prime minister to step down two weeks ago, after accusing him of lying about his trip to Indonesia.

"A spokesperson, Barnabas Henson, told Beverley Tse the fight for the Prime Minister's resignation came after it was revealed his government had footed the bill of more than Solomon Islands $1 million."

BARNABAS HENSON: His officer told the people that the trip was fully funded by the Indonesian government. Well, it came out in the papers that the trip wasn't fully funded by the Indonesian government and it was to the tune of more than [Solomon Islands] $1 million from our treasury. So we thought the prime minister is lying to the nation, saying that the trip has been externally funded. So we thought, okay, we should come together as a group and make a call on the PM, based on that, but then looking back over other issues that were outstanding where he's, in our view, failed.

BEVERLEY TSE: And what are those other issues?

BH: Well, you've got the ongoing teachers issue, the relevelling exercise for salaries. You've got student allowances. We've got students stranded in institutions overseas, and that issue hasn't been resolved to date, as far as we're concerned. We've got the beche-de-mer issue. We've got the tsunami funding report that hasn't been released by the government. We've got the issue on high utility rental bills resulting in a few ministries having their power disconnected, including King George National Secondary School. We've got the failure to release the TRC Report. The government has promised to release it to the public, but they haven't.

BT: Will you continue to push for the prime minister to resign, even if he continues to reject your calls?

BH: Yes, we will. Our ultimate objective is to get him to resign and we will ensure that we achieve that objective, because we feel that it's for the good of the nation, it's for the good of the people, he's deviated from our ideals, from the will of the people, from the wishes of the people, so he needs to step aside. And we are going to work on this strategy to a point when he actually exits the office.

BT: In regard to the prime minister's trip to Indonesia and the lie about who funded the trip, would you like an investigation into that?

BH: Absolutely, absolutely. We've got evidence on the breakdown of what was actually paid out of the government coffers and we would like further investigations into that, even up to prosecuting people who are responsible.