30 Jan 2004

Solomon Islands opposition calls for security contract probe

12:09 pm on 30 January 2004

The Solomon Islands opposition leader is calling for a government inquiry into why the foreign minister, Laurie Chan, signed a border security contract without cabinet approval.

John Garo says Mr Chan should be sacked for allegedly failing to follow cabinet and parliamentary procedures.

He alleges that the minister signed a contract to pay a New Zealander, Mark Emery, a salary equivalent to one point two million Solomon Island dollars, or more than 160 thousand US dollars.

"That is outrageous. That's crazy. Especially when the unions are putting pressure on the government to renumerate them for their outstanding salaries and also the cost of living here."

Mr Garo says Government ministers have been sacked in the past for lesser crimes.

Mark Emery was involved in a controversy in 2002 which sparked the early resignation of police commissioner, Morton Sireheti.

Mr Sireheti had accused the Prime Minister, Sir Allan Kemakeza, of pressuring him into hiring Mr Emery as a special police constable.

Mr Sireheti had earlier sacked Mr Emery for what he termed breaches of security.