FORMER Prime Minister, Sir Allen Kemakeza has paid tribute to late Sir Peter Kenilorea for his contribution in government, politics and nation building.
Sir Peter, a statesman and the nation’s first Prime Minister died at the National Referral Hospital(NRH) in Honiara last Thursday 25th February 2016, at age 72.
He led the country to attain Independence from Great Britain in 1978.
Government in his honour has set down today as a special public holiday to allow the nation to pay their last respect to Sir Peter in a state funeral, before his body is taken to Rara, East Are’Are, Malaita province later this evening for burial.
Sir Allen, who was the seventh Prime Minister from 2001-2006, recalled knowing late Sir Peter, when he was the District Officer and Magistrate in Auki, Malaita province in 1972.
“I worked as a police constable at Auki from 1972-1973 and used to accompany him on tours around Malaita,” he said.
Sir Allen said late Peter first entered politics in 1976 before he joined him in 1989 as former Member of Parliament for Savo/Russells.
“We served together under late Solomon Mamaloni, where late Sir Peter was the Foreign Affairs Minister and I as Minister for Housing and Government Services.
“After that late Sir Peter resigned and the late Mamaloni’s government lobbied for him to be the Director of Honiara-based Forum Fisheries Agency in 2000,” Sir Allen recalled.
When the ethnic conflict boiled over in late 2000, Manasseh Sogavare was appointed as the Prime Minister and Sir Allen his deputy and Minister for Peace.
“We involved Sir Peter in the peace negotiation in Townsville where we signed the agreement to restore peace.
“I also appointed him as chairman of Peace Monitoring Council because of his status as former Prime Minister and someone who can work with warring parties of the conflict,” Sir Allen said.
The Townsville peace agreement ultimately failed, and an Australian-led multinational force arrived in 2003 to restore law and order.
Sir Allen, who was the Prime Minister during the intervention of RAMSI, said the government had also engaged Sir Peter in the peace building.
Late Sir Peter also served as the Speaker of Parliament from 2001 to 2010, but retired from public life as he began a long battle with illness.
Sir Allen, who succeeded him as Speaker of Parliament described him as one of the greatest leaders in Solomon Islands and his death is a great loss for this nation and family.
“He (Sir Peter) is a man of humility who can listen to small and big people before making his final judgement.
“When he faced challenges in parliament during strong debates, his response was always soft and kind,” Sir Allen said.
“He (Sir Peter) is also very intelligent, has alot of wisdom and got charisma,” he said.
“His (Sir Peter’s) style of leadership was almost same to late Solomon Mamaloni.
“I learnt alot from them,” he said.
Sir Allen said Sir Peter was very strong in upholding Christian principles, which really guided him in his leadership and decision making.
“It’s quite hard to find this kind of leader in this country.
“It’s a great loss for this country and as well his family,” he said.
As such, Sir Allen wishes to pay tribute to late Sir Peter for his leadership and contribution towards the development and prosperity of this nation.
Late Sir Peter is survived by his wife, Margaret, and his seven children and many grand children.
By EDDIE OSIFELO