Motion in recognition of anger based on political and economic issues: Solomons Opposition leader Wale

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Solomon Islands Opposition Leader says the motion of no confidence on the Prime Minister is in recognition of the anger on longstanding political issues.

Speaking on the floor of Parliament the Opposition Leaders said his decision to call on Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare to resign at the height of the unrest is democratic, and his decision not to was also democratic.

Wale said that his call on Members of Parliament to resign was also democratic, and their decision not to also democratic.

The Opposition Leader said the motion before the house seeks a political solution, and the people of Solomon Islands want an end to the economic problems gripping the country.

He said the vast majority of Solomon Islanders live on the margins; resource rich but cash poor – and they want better opportunities for their children. Wale says our people are angry, and they ask why this is the case.

Wale said no serious efforts have been taken to address such issues, and the influence of the logging sector on the formation of government at the cost of the sovereignty of the country is the cause of people’s frustrations.

“We must condemn all the criminality in the strongest terms, but it pales, in comparison to the looting happening at the top,” he said.

Wale said in the recent past the actions of the Prime Minister appears to target certain leaders and province, and says he is being directed by elements that are not in the best interest of the country and its people.

He said the involvement of foreign loggers in the country’s government is one of many issues that incite people’s anger.

Wale said this government was formed with money from foreign loggers and interests because after the elections the loggers financed the Prime Minister to finance the Members of Parliament, so he has the numbers to rule.

“Do you call that democracy?

“The people see their democratic process hijacked and are angry- angry that their leaders are so fickle and unprincipled and will sell themselves for 30 pieces of silver,” Wale said.

He said people are angry because their government is not working for their best interests but for the interests of foreign cronies.

“Public anger has been building up for over many years by all these bad governances. No serious efforts have been taken to address these serious issues,” the Opposition Leader said.

He said provincial governments over the past several years have repeated their desire to be given the constitutional mandate to manage their own affairs and destinies.

“Honiara has been consuming all the wealth that has been generated from resources exploited from the provinces.

“Honiara has been controlling everything for everyone, including decision making that the provinces have lost trust in Honiara.

“This is the situation specifically with Malaita Province,” Wale said.

He said the Prime Minister’s consistent and persistent persecution of Malaita is the final straw in the public anger that has been building up over awhile which then resulted in the unrest last month.

Speaking in favour of the motion, former prime minister Rick Hounipwela described Sogavare as the ultimate opportunist whose accession to prime minister over four stints “has always been under abnormal circumstances”.

Blaming the prime minister for negligent management of the country’s finances, Hounipwela said the country’s corruption problem had deepened under Sogavare’s rule.

“We’ve experienced huge tax exemptions worth millions of dollars given to the people who least needed it, usually the loggers and mining operators.”

He also claimed Sogavare has used police to repress public criticism of his leadership, and of directing foreign embassies and high commissions in the country to notify the government of their moves around the provinces.

“To vote against [the motion], members would be aiding and abetting his zeal for power and to rule this country with an iron fist. That’s what we see as a track record.”

Member of Parliament for East Guadalcanal Bradley Tovosia and Member of Parliament for Maringe/Kokota Dr Culwick Togamana have defended governments record under the leadership of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.

Bradley Tovosia accused the Opposition bench of raising issues and accusations that they are also guilty of. He says corruption is endemic and no leader have not participated in or are free from corruption.

He said that Guadalcanal did not participate in the lawless activities in Honiara and said that his people are not against the leadership of Sogavare.

Dr Culwick Togamana said that under the leadership of Prime Minister Sogavare the government has ensured that the country remains COVID-19 free. He said the state of the countries public health sector has been addressed systematically by the government and donor partners.

Togamana said that criminal activities should not dictate political outcomes and calls on leaders to ensure that people do not feel encouraged to resort to violence when one disagrees with government.

Meanwhile, Member of Parliament for South New Georgia, Rendova/Tetepare Danny Philip has called on leaders not to allow leadership to come from the ashes of riots.

Speaking against the motion the former Prime Minister said that what needs to happen is an open dialogue with those that do not agree with government.

He said it appears that the main issue is the China switch, and Malaita’s resistance to the government’s push for China led development.

Philip said that the relationship with China is driven by the need to develop as a country. He also defends the government’s decision to engage with China on infrastructure projects and says much of the assistance from China is through grants and not loans.

Philip said that he speaks on behalf of those silent majority that are against violence. He said families from his constituents have crowded ships to return to their home village.

He also alleged that he was offered the Prime Minister position by the Opposition which he turned down.

SOURCE: SOLOMON TIMES ONLINE/PACNEWS