15 Mar 2005

Solomons Prime Minister says Cabinet Minister had to go because of criminal charges

7:19 pm on 15 March 2005

A senior member of the Solomon Islands Government has been sacked after earlier refusing to resign.

Michael Maina, who was the Police, National Security and Justice Minister until two weeks ago when he was demoted to Reconciliation Minister, has now been sacked from Cabinet.

Maina is one of three, now former, Ministers facing criminal charges.

He was charged last month with theft in connection with an alleged payment of more than 150 thousand US dollars into a bank account he controlled.

In a letter before he left for Papua New Guinea on Monday, Sir Allan Kemakeza told Maina that the charges against him have seriously damaged the government's good name.

Augustine Taneko, who became Minister of Police and Justice two weeks ago, is to supervise the Ministry of National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace until a successor to Maina can be found.