13 November 2017

ABSOLUTE support for the candidacy of the Member of Parliament (MP) for Small Malaita Rick Hou for the post of Prime Minister by Members of Parliament in the caretaker government coalition camp is now in doubt.

Political insiders said the Sunday night reconciliation between former Democratic Coalition for Change Government (DCCG) MPs and the caretaker Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare sent a strong signal of a new pendulum swing that could deny the Small Malaita MP of winning the election tomorrow.

A press release issued by the caretaker Prime Minister’s Press Secretary Alex Akwai stated during the reconciliation, 15 former DCCG MPs apologised their mistake to resign from Sogavare-led DCCG and for supporting the motion of no-confidence in the prime ministership of the East Choiseul MP.

The press release however did not mention the names of the former DCCG MPs and whether it was the MPs who initiated the reconciliation ceremony or the caretaker Prime Minister.

When asked to name the 15 former DCCG MPs and who initiated the reconciliation, Mr Akwai said, he did not attend the reconciliation and thus could not answer such questions.

When further asked if the reconciliation meant a shift in support from the candidacy of Mr Hou to the Opposition and Independent group candidate for the prime ministership Moffat Fugui by the caretaker Prime Minister and his close associate MPs, Mr Akwai said, “No.”

“The reconciliation has nothing to do with politics but lotu and culture.” This response reinforces comments by the caretaker Prime Minister that the ceremony was only between himself and the 15 MPs and does not impact on any political agenda.

But political insiders the Solomon Star spoke to yesterday claimed, the reconciliation is an indicator of a pendulum swing in terms of support for the candidacies of the Small Malaita MP and the Central Honiara MP.

“The timing of the reconciliation should be telling enough of the pendulum swing in the support of MPs in the caretaker government camp for their nominated candidate to the other.

“This latest twist in politics is amazing so to speak and the remaining time before the election of a new Prime Minister on Wednesday will be very interesting to watch,” one political insider said.

Another political insider said, “Yes, things are getting more and more interesting as we draw closer to Wednesday’s election of a new Prime Minister.

“The reconciliation convened at the caretaker Prime Minister’s residence on Sunday signifies a split in the support of the candidacy of Mr Hou in the government camp.

“The issue of ministerial portfolio allocations is a major issue in the government camp. Mr Hou is finding it a challenge to try to please everyone in terms of the ministerial portfolio allocations.

“As you know the government camp is now made up of four different political parties- Kadere Party, People’s Democratic Party, People’s First party and the Democratic Alliance Party- and it is indeed a challenging task for Mr Hou to try to please everyone so as to maintain their support for his candidacy.”

Another political insider said after failing to reach comprise with the different political parties in the government camp on ministerial portfolio allocations, Mr Hou has decided that the Cabinet line-up issue be sorted after the prime minister’s election tomorrow.