25 Apr 2008

Solomons orders RIPEL boss out of country

1:34 pm on 25 April 2008

In Solomon Islands, the drawn-out dispute over the Russell Islands Plantation Limited issue has resulted in the government declaring the Managing Director of RIPEL, John Whiteside, persona non grata.

The Ministry of Immigration confirmed he was hand delivered a letter late last night, cancelling his permit to be in Solomon Islands, and was told to leave the country within 48 hours.

The estate was a key producer of cocoa and copra products and a major part of the economy until becoming embroiled in ongoing court action with its workers, who have been striking for four years.

Our correspondent, Dorothy Wickham, says the government has found it difficult to negotiate with Mr Whiteside.

"What they were wanting to do was for him to agree to them actually sitting down with the other shareholders and come to some sort of agreement, that maybe they should sell the company to an outsider who would come in with a fresh start and revitalise the company, however, he didn't seem interested in that."

Dorothy Wickham