LEADER of Independent Group in Parliament, Dr Derek Sikua, has cautioned the DCC government to remain within the bounds of the Townsville Peace Agreement (TPA).
This is in relation to the $3million cash payment made to ex-combatants – a partial payment of a $300 million promised to the Ex-Militants of Malaita and Guadalcanal Provinces.
Dr Sikua stated that Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has apparently stepped outside the parameters of the TPA to forge the cash payment while there is not even a clause within the contractual document that mentioned anything as such.
“The rehabilitation programs under the TPA are non-cash benefits, or developmental in nature, and by that, to be facilitated by the Malaita and Guadalcanal Provincial governments,” Dr Sikua explained.
“As such, the Prime Minister has made a grave mistake in light of the release of the ex-combatants payment,” the leader of the Independent Group added.
Dr Sikua further stated that “…this is a serious issue of inconsistency and non-adherence to the TPA. How dare you expect to honour the TPA when your government’s action is inconsistent with the contents of the agreement?”
Dr Sikua added that the DCCG under the leadership of Sogavare is continuing to indulge in ‘money politics’ as means to resolving the mounting social problems of this country.
He pointed out that the precedence set will open up further claims from other individuals and disgruntled groups who had been part of, or victims of the ethnic crisis.
The leader of the Independent Group stated that “the payment is unethical because it amounts to pure extortion of public funds due to political pressure, and the fact that it is outside the parameters of the TPA”.
Dr Sikua said the government cannot be just throwing money around like this when the health services in Solomon Islands are derailing into a worst state, let alone other priority development programs promised for this country in 2016.
“Apparently, it is without doubt that the Prime Minister is using the TPA as a ploy for his personal and political ambitions.
“Whilst I agree for the government to start facilitating the TPA, however the manner in which this payment was made raises more questions than answers.
“One of which is; was it a political protection payment, or is a form of inducement to buy off ex-militants allegiance to maintain political stability for the Prime Minister?” Dr Sikua asked.
The leader of the Independent Group said it is clear that the Prime Minister is again using his “crafty character” to use the disbanded militants who have now settled down to continue maintaining his power hungry leadership.
Dr Sikua rubbished the statement by PM Sogavare in which he stated that such payment is needed to provide the lasting peace for Solomon Islands.
“This is an understatement that only reflects a leader that is short-sighted and lacking wisdom to foresight the future consequences of such harsh and irrational decision.
“Conversely, the PM is continuing to undermine the TRC report, although it sets a concrete platform to address any ethnic related issues as we strive for a holistic recovery and restoration of our country,” Dr Sikua pointed out.
“Against this backdrop, I would like to advise the Prime minister to strictly operate within the scope of the TPA.
“However it would be more fair and productive if the government can re-table the TRC report for debate on the floor of parliament.
“This would establish a level playing field to ensure the parliament addresses the wider spectrum of issues accordingly, including identifying diverse groups, and individuals who have been involved, and are victims of the ethnic crisis, rather than focusing only on one particular group.
“This would help us formulate appropriate policies and laws to solve the issues once and for all,” Dr Sikua emphasized.
He continued: “It would be more practical if the government can work on a medium and long term strategy to stretch the rehabilitation programs as stipulated in the TPA over a given timeframe.
“This will help the government to properly manage the progress of the program, and do realistic implementation, and moreover give ample time to pool sufficient resources, as the exercise will be costly.
“Beside this, I encourage the government to take an inclusive approach by involving relevant stakeholders in sourcing their expertise and savvy as the ethnic related issues are multifaceted and cannot be addressed by the government alone.”