THE Parliamentary Opposition has questioned the Government’s approach in remunerating former combatants of the Malaita Eagles Force (MEF).
The $3 million payment which was done on the eve of Christmas last year was described by the Opposition as unfair to the citizens of this country, especially the victims of the ethnic tension including those who had lost properties, as well as, those who were traumatized.
The Opposition Group said, the Government is setting a very bad and unsustainable precedence which will sooner or later see more claims arising.
“When this happens where will the Government get the money to settle these ‘other claims’? These claims are not budgeted for in the 2016 budget. The Parliamentary Opposition is aware that people who had lost their properties during the height of the tension have also yet to be compensated.
“These properties were in the form of houses, vehicles, and businesses. The Government must not turn a blind eye on these people, as well as, those who had been traumatized,” it said.
The statement added, if the Government is claiming to be genuinely paying the former combatants based on the Townsville Peace Agreement (TPA) and a promise by the former Prime Minister Allan Kemakeza, then it might as well address the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Report and take a more strategic and fairer approach in rehabilitating both the ex-combatants and victims rather than resorting to cash handouts.
“Actually the TPA calls for long term rehabilitation not cash compensation,” it said.
The Parliamentary Opposition therefore recommends that instead of making cash payments or cash handouts to former combatants, the Government should initiate a rehabilitation package in the form of projects, which former combatants and genuine victims alike can apply and operate to sustain their life and that of their families.
“The action taken by this Government is unfair, unsustainable, and lacks sound judgement’’ it said.