A SPLIT between two of the nation’s outspoken civil societies has widen.
Differences between the popular Forum Solomon Islands International (FSII) and the emerging Joint Civil Society Group and Concerned Citizens (JCSG & CC) started to show some three weeks ago.
This was after FSII publicly declared it has withdrawn its collaboration with the joint civil society group.
The two were once staunch allies.
In fact FSII was a member of the joint civil society group, an offshoot of a combination of civil society groups.
The joint civil society group was formed to lobby for public support to pressure Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo to step down amidst widespread allegations of corruption against his leadership.
But after the joint civil society group interim chairman Barnabas Henson was accused of lobbying government MPs to desert Mr Lilo, FSII decided to severe its collaboration with the group.
Yesterday, the joint civil society group issued a statement describing FSII’s early withdrawal from the collaboration as premature and hypocritical.
“This is an open declaration of betrayal, cowardice, feeblemindedness and validation of corruption and bad governance,” the statement issued by Mr Henson said.
“Despite FSII’s self-acclaimed impeccability, it has not been exactly free of fraud, corruption and mismanagement,” the statement claimed.
“Their recent media outburst against the JCSG & CC is seen as nothing but a narcissistic smokescreen that speaks nothing of nationhood, unity, and progress but of self-centred egotism, pride and prejudice – an ego crisis.
“They have completely missed the point.
“FSII as a registered NGO has recently come under fire for its failure to convene AGMs and produce annual reports over the past two years as required by its constitution.
“Isn’t this corrupting and violating its own constitution?”
The civil society group statement said all other stakeholders who are collaborating with them have stood on a single challenge – and that is they were presented with quite a unique circumstance.
“One that requires common ground, shared values, and a great deal of flexibility, understanding, tolerance and sacrifice.
“FSII on the other hand has been opportunistic, seizing on JCSG & CC’s recent media accusation as leverage for its own particular agenda.
“Their actions have only served to disrespect the collaboration and treasonous to the very people they claim to represent.
From the outset, FSII has always been a weak link in the JCSG & CC collaboration.
“This point of weakness first appeared when the FSII President in league with a senior official of the Office of the Prime Minister engineered the cancellation of an earlier planned radio talk-back show on SIBC.
“Their recent too-quick-on-the-draw condemnation of the JCSG & CC reinforces that notion.
“As an organisation claiming to represent the silent majority, FSII has simply debauched its own mandate,” the statement said.
It added that FSII is wearing a mask (hypocrisy) to conceal its own vices – claiming a consistency it cannot sustain.
“This is cause for serious concerns. So who are we trying to fool here?”
Meanwhile, Mr Henson said the civil society group fully appreciates and respects the decision of the FSII Board.
“It’s such a shame to lose a valuable member of the collaboration in this manner,” he said.
He said the joint civil society collaboration primarily focusses on the various issues of national concern addressed by the Peoples’ Petition.
“In spite of FSII’s withdrawal, we vow never to concede defeat, nor will we give up the fight against bad leadership and poor governance,” he said.
“The joint civil society basically is everybody and anybody who is a true hearted Solomon Islander.
“The collaboration remains strong and committed in its role of peoples’ advocate against injustice and corruption; and will continue down this path with or without FSII.
“Given the non-permanent status of the JCSG & CC collaboration, our strategies are purely based on the Peoples’ Petition and our actions guided by law and the national constitution.
“We will be relentless in this fight.
“We respect the law, the Constitution and the will of the people hence will never be deterred by the whims of a single entity,” Mr Henson said.
He added the fight has gone to new heights that require a re-defined level of thought and action that must prioritize the greater good of the nation above anything else.
“Therefore we have given ourselves to pursuing justice on all fronts for the sake of the poor and the disadvantaged – those of whom for so long have been confined to the margins of society by political greed and egoistical leadership of the ‘exclusive circle’.”
“We stay determined to reach beyond our own diversities, boundaries, and parameters and stand united under our sovereign Constitution as a collaboration of ordinary Solomon Islanders fighting for justice.
“There is no and never will be a stand-alone, unilateral solution to the nation’s ills.
“The change this nation needs can only be achieved by working together as a people and a nation.
“That is why we will be fearless and united in the exercise of our constitutional rights and freedoms to ensure that this nation is re-directed on to the correct path to justice, equality, and prosperity for all.”