17 Dec 2002

Six MPS in Solomon Islands leave government on eve of no confidence motion

11:19 am on 17 December 2002

The Solomon Islands government is under severe pressure with the loss of six of its backbenchers and two senior government advisors.

The MPs, who all belong to the Association of Independent Members, left the government on the eve of a motion of no confidence.

One of the group says they have resigned because of leadership problems and amid calls for their leader, Snyder Rini, to be replaced.

Reports say last week's government re-shuffle that followed the finance minister's resignation is yet to be confirmed by the governor-general as some of the ministers concerned reportedly object to being transferred to other portfolios.

This coincides with denials of reports that the prime minister, Sir Allan Kemakeza, may see his leadership of the People's Alliance Party challenged.

Meanwhile, the government's financial management has also been thrown into further disruption with the departure of two expatriates at the weekend.

The Finance Secretary, Lloyd Powell and an advisor to the office of the Prime Minister, Rob Solomon, left on a chartered flight.

The head of Policy Evaluation in the Prime Minister Department, Sir George Lepping, says the first that was know of the two men's departure was an e-mail from Australia.

It's not known why they left, although threats from groups who say the government owes them money could be a factor.

The Australian High Commission says both men have taken holidays.