23 Feb 2007

Solomons political situation delays MSG signing

3:27 pm on 23 February 2007

The Solomon Islands Foreign Ministry says the planned motion of no-confidence in the Prime Minister forced the government to request the deferral of the signing of the Melanesian Spearhead Group agreement.

The permanent secretary of Foreign Affairs, Jerry Manele, says the signing was scheduled to take place in Vanuatu's capital Port Vila today, shortly before the motion of no-confidence was to be debated in Honiara.

But the speaker of the Solomons parliament , Sir Peter Kenilorea, ruled the motion was technically disqualified and would not be tabled as previously expected.

Mr Manele says the motion would have prevented the prime minister, Manasseh Sogavare, from joining other Melanesian leaders at the signing to establish a formal MSG constitution.

"We attach a lot of importance to the MSG agreement so the Prime Minister was scheduled to attend the signing but because of that motion, he decided to request the [MSG] chairman to defer the signing. We asked him to defer the signing before the ruling by the speaker was made."

Jerry Manele says the MSG signing will now take place next month in Port Vila.