Solomon Islands official warns country’s leader ‘trying to cement power’ through China security pact

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A policy advisor for the Opposition in the Pacific nation has spoken out against a deal with China which would allow the Communist power to build a military base on the Solomon Islands.

The Solomon Islands Prime Minister agreed to a controversial security pact with China to cement his political power, a policy advisor for the Opposition in the Pacific nation has claimed.

Australia’s Pacific Minister travelled to the island nation last week to urge the country’s leader Manasseh Sogavare not to sign the pact with the Communist power.

The Morrison government fears the deal will allow China to establish a military base in the South Pacific nation.

Solomon Islands Opposition Policy Advisor Joel Fangalasuu said it was not in his country’s interests to be drawn into a geopolitical struggle.

“The Opposition’s stance to this is clear,” he told Sky News Australia on Monday.

“We do not believe China should be allowed to build a military base here in the Solomons.

“The Solomon Islands does not have any external enemies. This alone should be reason enough for China not to be allowed to build a military base here.”

He said he believed the Solomon Islands Prime Minister was trying to strengthen his hold on power by making ties with China.

“We think this deal will really cement his grip on the political power, especially in light of the internal drivers of security the Solomons Islands faces,” the advisor said.

Fangalasuu said the deal would attract “geopolitical interest and competition we do not want to be a part of”

“We would not support this deal. We would kick China out. That would be our position,” he said.

Pacific Minister Zed Seselja last week said there had been “direct engagement” between Australia and the South Pacific country over the proposed security pact.

“We look forward to ongoing engagement with Solomon Islands, and with our Pacific family members, on these very important issues. Our view remains that the Pacific family will continue to meet the security needs of our region,” he said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said he will “continue to press” the Solomon Islands over its deal with China.

Australia’s Minister for the Pacific Senator Zed Seselja claims he used a visit to the Solomon Islands to “respectfully” ask Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare to reconsider signing a security partnership with China.

Morrison was asked last Tuesday what his government would do to ensure China did not establish a military base in the Pacific.

“Well, you heard from the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, that is not something that they would allow to occur. He made that very clear,” he said.

“We’re continuing to press on the issue of rotation, possible rotation of vessels or others that might seek to go to Solomon Islands.

“It’s a very serious issue we’ll continue to press,” he said.

SOURCE: SKY NEWS/PACNEWS