‘MOVE COULD BACK FIRE’ - Solomon Star News


18 September 2020
Malaita Premier Daniel Suidani (L) and Deputy PM Manasseh Maelanga (R).

On stand taken by nine Malaitan MPs on referendum statement

By Alfred Sasako
Newsroom, Honiara


THE stand taken by Malaitan Members of Parliament (MPs) on the referendum issue is being questioned with some saying it could backfire.

Nine Malaitan MPs led by Deputy Prime Minister and MP for East Malaita Manasseh Maelanga on Thursday published a signed Joint Statement, describing Premier Daniel Suidani’s call for the referendum “unlawful.”

Those who signed the Statement are the Deputy Prime Minister and MP for East Malaita, Manasseh Maelanga, East Kwaio MP, Stanley Sofu, West Kwaio MP, Titus Fika, Fataleka MP Rexson Ramofafia, Central Kwara’ae MP Jackson Fiulaua, Baegu/Asifola MP Makario Tagini, MP for Lau/Mbaelelea MP Augustine Auga, Malaita Outer Island MP Martin Kealoe, and MP for North Malaita, Senley Filualea, 

In their joint statement, the MPs said:

“We, the nine (9) Members of Parliament in the Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement in relation to the continuous unlawful call by the Premier of Malaita Province hereby state as follows:

“The fourteen (14) Members of Parliament of Malaita Province both in the Government and Opposition are the constitutionally mandated representatives of the people in their constituencies and not the Premier of Malaita, his advisors or any other groups,” they said.

Among other things, they said the call for referendum “does not reflect the true position of the law-abiding citizens of Malaita Province nor the wishes of the Constituencies of which we the undersigned have been mandated to represent.”

“Any actions to establish Independence for Malaita Province will require wider and more comprehensive consultations [to be] done in accordance with the rule of law over a realistic period of time to ensure that achieving Independence protects the best interests of all Malaitans rather than to simply advance individual agendas of a select few being supported by foreign interests to demand a referendum for Independence without any regard for the consequences of such actions while claiming to represent the majority population of Malaita.

“Premier Suidani and his advisors are promoting their own interest with regards to the call for referendum and are misleading the people of Malaita at such a critical time when we all should be united in our efforts to safeguard the country from the threat of a global pandemic and a worldwide economic recession.

They also accused Premier Suidani and his advisors of being “just a mouthpiece and a pawn in this geopolitical game”, a reference to Australia and the United States who are against the move by Solomon Islands in establishing diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China.

“The real victim of Suidani's self-interest is Malaita and her people,” they said.

But political watchers told the Solomon Star yesterday the joint statement should never have been made public because it has the potential to raise the political argument over the referendum to boiling point.

“That cannot be ruled out because in the case of Malaita it raises the very question of the extent of the powers of the Provincial Government under the current Provincial Government Act,” one official who requested anonymity pointed out. 

The issue of the powers of the provincial government is not only confined to Malaita. In fact, it is the very thing Premier David Gina of the Western Province has raised a number of times,” the official said.

Meanwhile, the Malaitan MPs in the national government are hoping their colleagues in the Opposition would join them in a meeting being organised for Tuesday.

It is understood the meeting is to agree on the approach to be taken in addressing the raft of issues, including the referendum to ensure a peaceful resolution is reached.

Premier Suidani yesterday addressed the public at Auki Central Market after the statement was issued.

He told the crowd to continue with their daily activities and allow politicians to deal with politics. 

Its understood the office of the Premier has issued a response.