24 Feb 2009

Malaitan Maasina Forum in Solomon Islands rejects criticism of survey

11:58 am on 24 February 2009

The Malaitan Maasina Forum in Solomon Islands has rejected criticism of a survey that's found overwhelming support for independence.

The Forum says of the 624 people who responded to the survey, 619 favoured independence.

But the country's deputy Prime Minister Fred Fono has questioned whether the 1000 Malaitans in Honiara who were surveyed, were chosen because of their anti-government leanings.

The Forum president Hudson Kwalea says people were not chosen because of their political views, rather people were selected from within churches, the government, NGOS, people on the street and rural areas, and the marginalised.

Mr Kwalea says the government's own reports and consultation found 85 percent support for independence.

"I think its so clear that no one on Malaita can dispute the fact that independence has been on the minds of Malaitans for a long long time."

Hudson Kwalea says he has talked with people in Fred Fono's own constituency who say he is a lone voice who is not speaking for the people of Malaita.