17 Nov 2007

Solomon Islands opposition says empty ministerial portfolios prove PM lacks numbers

11:39 am on 17 November 2007

The Solomon Islands opposition leader Fred Fono says empty ministerial portfolios are proof that the Prime Minister lacks the numbers to rule.

Recent days have seen a series of claims and counter claims by supporters and opponents of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare over who has the majority in parliament.

The government claims that the former prime minister, Sir Allan Kemakeza, has joined Mr Sogavare to bolster his numbers since the weekend defection of up to 12 government MPs amid calls for him to resign.

But Mr Fono insists Kemakeza, who is due to be sentenced on December 3rd after being convicted for ordering a 2002 raid on a Honiara law firm, remains with the opposition.

"So with Sir Alan, we are still 26 and they are down at 22 - eighteen ministers plus four backbenchers. I mean, basically the media should know that he doesn't have the number that he's claiming. That's why he hasn't filled the five vacant ministerial portfolios."

Fred Fono says the opposition has given notice for a motion of no-confidence in Mr Sogavare to be tabled when parliament resumes before the end of the year.