Only 17 government ministers and backbenchers attended an urgent Caucus meeting called for on Sunday to ascertain the support of the Democratic Coalition for Change Government (DCCG) for the leadership of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, Caucus insiders revealed.
The meeting was convened amidst reports that 29 Members of Parliament including government ministers and backbenchers have signed to a move to remove the East Choiseul MP Manasseh Sogavare as Prime Minister.
The 17 who attended the caucus meeting were as follows;
1. Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare;
2. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs Manasseh Maelanga;
3. Minister of Education and Human Resources Development John Dean Kuku;
4. Minister of Finance and Treasury Snyder Rini;
5. Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Dudley Kopu;
6. Member of Parliament for Lau/Mbaelelea Augustine Auga (Backbencher);
7. Minister of Commerce, Industries, Labour and Immigration William Marau;
8. Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade Milner Tozaka;
9. Chairman of Government Caucus Jackson Fiulaua;
10. Minister of Rural Development Jimson Tanangada;
11. Minister of Women, Youth and Children Affairs Freda Tuki;
12. Minister of Development and Aid Coordination Danny Philip;
13. Minister of National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace Samson Maneka;
14. Minister of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology Samuel Manetoali;
15. Minister of Health and Medical Services Dr Kaituu Tautai Angikimua;
16. Minister of Infrastructure Development Stanley Festus Sofu; and
17. Member of Parliament for East Central Guadalcanal Ishmael Avui (Backbencher).
The Solomon Star understood that six Ministers- Minister of Culture and Tourism Bartholomew Parapolo, Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs Elijah Doromuala, Minister of Lands, Housing and Survey Andrew Manepora, Minister of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification Bradley Tovosia and Minister of Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening David Tome, Minister of Police Moses Garu and the Deputy Chairman of Government Caucus Namson Tran are out overseas or to their constituencies.
The turnout at the urgent Caucus meeting yesterday and the number of government MPs abroad suggested that two of the 29 MPs who signed up to the move to oust Prime Minister Sogavare attended the Caucus meeting, the Source claimed.
The total number of Government MPs – both Ministers and backbenchers- prior to the major Cabinet shakeup was 38.
The two MPs may have attended the meeting because they were undecided as whether or not they should maintain their support for the leadership of Sogavare or solely for the purpose of reporting back to the others who have signed to the anti-Sogavare move, the source said.
Meanwhile, a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office yesterday afternoon stated that DCCG continues to maintain its numerical strength and solidarity.
The statement said this was evident in the caucus meeting held yesterday which was attended by more than 25 MPs despite a number of ministers and backbenchers are in the provinces or overseas for various commitments.
The statement quoted a ‘confident and determined’ Prime Minister Sogavare confirming that, “DCCG solidarity is intact and we are fully committed to ensure policy delivery and move forward in the national interest.”
The Prime Minister’s Office in the statement also called on the media to be responsible and to avoid publishing material that is inaccurate and misleading to the public.
By Teddy Kafo