23 Apr 2021

Solomons PM condemns leaking of cabinet paper

3:19 pm on 23 April 2021

The Solomon Islands prime minister says he will not rest until he gets his hands on the person or persons behind the leak of a confidential cabinet paper.

Solomon Islands prime minister Manasseh Sogavare.

Solomon Islands prime minister Manasseh Sogavare. Photo: SIG news service

Published recently on social media the paper revealed cabinet's approval of a policy to extend the term of the current parliament by one year.

It was met with widespread public criticism and prompted questions from the opposition in parliament.

In responding to those questions Manasseh Sogavare did not deny the authenticity of the paper but rather defended its contents while vowing to find out who leaked it.

"This matter is not yet ready for public consumption. The source of the information is a leaked cabinet paper. It is sad to that cabinet confidentiality is no longer respected and I will not rest day nor night until I lay my hands on him and whoever," Manasseh Sogavare said.

When questioned about the lack of consultation on the matter Manasseh Sogavare said people were putting the cart before the horse.

He said the cabinet endorsement was for the policy to be developed and public consultations were to follow.

But a member of the parliamentary opposition group, Peter Kenilorea Junior, is urging the government to shelve the policy saying it impinges on the democratic rights of Solomon Islands citizens.

"And one of the cornerstones of that is universal sufferage and voting. I don't think government programs should be tied to election cycles. Those are separate issues in my mind, the important thing is to allow people to go the polls to exercise their voice," Peter Kenilorea Junior said.

Solomon Islands MP for East Are Are, Peter Kenilorea Junior.

Solomon Islands MP for East Are Are, Peter Kenilorea Junior. Photo: National Parliament of Solomon Islands

To effect the change the Solomon Islands government would need to amend the country's constitution. Depending on which section of the constitution it applies to, Sogavare would require the support of two thirds to three quarters of the house to get it to pass.

The prime minister said he will be pressing forward with drafting the policy and conducting community consultations on the proposed extension.