21 Jan 2016

Solomons PM considering legal action over NZ journo's article

2:38 pm on 21 January 2016

The Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, Manasseh Sogavare, is considering legal action after a claim by a New Zealand journalist that he staged the 2000 coup.

The office of Mr Sogavare has denounced the allegation in Michael Field's article 'War in Solomon Islands circles', published in the Island Sun newspaper in Honiara.

The article reflects on events in Solomon Islands around 2000 and the protracted conflict focussed on Guadalcanal between the Malaita Eagle Force and the Isatabu Freedom Movement.

At the height of the tensions a coup forced a change of government with Mr Sogavare emerging as prime minister.

However Mr Sogavare has issued a statement saying the claim he instigated the coup is false and malicious, and that he deplores it in the strongest terms.

The Prime Minister last month announced a rehabilitation payment package worth US$375,000 to former MEF members, something Mr Field highlighted in his article.

In a statement, the Prime Minister says the coup was staged by some Solomon Islanders who thought "the political government at that time failed to protect their ethnic grouping from harm by other Solomon Islanders who took the law into their own hands because of government failure to address their longstanding concerns and grievances."

The Prime Minister's office says the article is an example of fictitious journalism, and has cautioned local journalists about re-publishing articles from other online sites word for word without verifying the veracity of their content.

Manasseh Sogavare

Manasseh Sogavare Photo: RNZI Koroi Hawkins