28 Nov 2007

Solomons Opposition says MP who swapped sides had 'chickened out.'

3:34 pm on 28 November 2007

The Solomon Islands has a new finance and treasury minister after the surprise defection to the government of a stern opposition critic of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.

Peter Boyers, who held the same portfolio under the previous government of Sir Allan Kemakeza, was sworn in to the post again yesterday.

The MP for West New Georgia/Vona Vona has been a vocal critic of Mr Sogavare who has constantly tried to undermine the powers of the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands or RAMSI.

The prime minister is facing a strong challenge to his leadership after nine of his ministers and three backbenchers defected to the opposition earlier this month.

Both sides claim to have the numbers.

But the government has gone to court to challenge Governor-General Sir Nathaniel Waena's decision to recall parliament on December 13 so Mr Sogavare can face a vote of no-confidence.

The Opposition Leader Fred Fono told the AAP newsagency today that Mr Boyers had "chickened out" to take up the finance and treasury post.