11 Dec 2002

Solomon Islands government coalition denies split rumours

11:56 am on 11 December 2002

The two parties that form Solomon islands National Coalition government have again declared their support for their Memorandum of Understanding to rule.

George Atkin reports that the People's Alliance Party and the Association of Independent Members group re-affirmed their solidarity at a meeting in Honiara following widespread reports that the National coalition government was falling apart.

"The reports of the government falling apart were the result of a group of ministers wanting to break away from the Kemakeza regime to team up with the opposition. But insiders claim the group's intention has been quashed. The insiders say if the differences had not been settled the Kemakeza government would have collapsed by the weekend."

Meanwhile, the government says a Cabinet reshuffle could be made as early as tomorrow if the Finance Minister Laurie Chan resigns.

Sir George Lepping in the Prime Minister's Office says there is no confirmation that Mr Chan, who has just presented his first budget, will resign, but he says it is likely.

And Sir George says Deputy Prime Minister, Snyder Rini is likely to become the new Finance Minister, while Mr Chan will be moved to another portfolio.

Mr Rini served as Finance Minister in the government set up after the coup in 2000, and was widely criticised for granting remissions on excise duty which cost the government millions of dollars in revenue.

The likely removal of Mr Chan follows the sacking of Michael Maina as Finance Minister in March this year.

Mr Maina had devalued the dollar by 25 percent but he was removed, according to the Prime Minister, for failing to clear it with Cabinet first.

The devaluation was later reversed.