Deal with China is another contentious policy by Solomon Islands govt

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An anti-corruption group in Solomon Islands says the government’s move to sign a security agreement with China is just another controversial policy decision it has made in recent years.

The Pacific country has drawn criticism from Australia and New Zealand after a draft copy of the security agreement being brokered with China was leaked.

Transparency Solomon Islands chief executive in Honiara Ruth Liloqula said the switch from Taiwan to China in 2019 policy was another controversial decision.

And she said more recently the government’s move to extend the life of parliament from four to five years, effectively giving themselves another year in office.

“Locally there have been no consultations around the move security deal and people are anxious about government intentions.”

She said the agreement has been described as a leadership crisis in the country.

“Those trying to link the Solomon Islands actions to a lack of input from Australia and New Zealand in regional security are missing the mark,” she said.

“I don’t think that is the case. That is the easiest excuse to bring in. What we are seeing here is a leadership crisis inside our country and those they are surrounding themselves with, to look at the bigger picture.”

An opposition figure in Solomon Islands said the regional outrage concerning the leaked security pact between Beijing and Honiara is not an “overreaction”.

The Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and MP for East Are Are, Peter Kenilorea Jr said any security cooperation with a country that has no such arrangements in the Pacific will cause an “uproar.”

Kenilorea said there are “very strong feelings” on the ground on who should or shouldn’t be the Solomon Islands’ security partner of choice.

“So there are certain segments in society that are very much against CCP, Communist China. And they have made that very clear, particularly in the Malaita Province.

They have their own communique, stating very clearly that they’re not wanting to do anything to do with the CCP, even in the development arena. So there will even be more heightened in the security arena,” he said.

SOURCE: RNZ PACIFIC/PACNEWS