26 Jun 2007

Transparency Solomon Islands questions credibility of prime minister

6:23 am on 26 June 2007

Transparency Solomon Islands says moves by the new Police Commissioner to re-arm sections of the force highlight questions over the Prime Minister's credibility.

The commissioner, Jahir Khan, has put in a budget proposal to the government for the purchase of weapons for police patrol boats and the close protection unit.

This follows moves at the start of the year by the Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare to have local police re-armed, which prompted widespread opposition by civil society groups and the public.

In response to the outcry, Mr Sogavare assured the public on the floor of parliament that he would not go ahead with the re-armament plan.

Transparency executive officer Joses Tuhanuku says the fact that Mr Khan is pushing ahead with the plan shows the Prime Minister cannot be trusted.

"The reason why we object to his appointment is exactly this: we know the prime minister would like to appoint someone who would do exactly what he may want to do, like arming the police and other things, because the police commissioner is supposed to be an independent post."