OCEANIA/ SOLOMON ISLANDS - New Premier, new hope for peace and social harmony

Monday, 15 May 2006

Honiara (Fides Service) - People in Solomon Islands long for peace and the situation is at last returning to normal now that Parliament at last elected a new prime minister on 4 May following the uprising which forced his predecessor to resign. Manasseh Sogavare opposition candidate won with 28 against the 22 of his rival. This was the second election of a premier in three weeks following that of Snyder Rini on 18 April which led to a wave of violent protest and disorder. Troubled happened particularly in the district of foreign shopkeepers, mostly from Taiwan, accused by the opposition of giving money to MPs to elect Rini later forced to resign. In the meantime in Honiara the capital, Australian and New Zealand military of RAMSI Regional Assistance Mission Solomon Islands have taken strong security measures to prevent any new outbreaks of disorder.
In a media conference after the vote, Sogavare said he would work for reconciliation in Solomon Islands the scene in recent years of violent clashes between rival ethnic groups.
MP from the minor island of Choiseul, Sogavare said he was independent of the native people of Guadalcanal, where the capital Honiara is located and from the immigrants living on the nearby island of Malaita, the rival ethnic groups. He also pledged full support for the mission led by Australia since 2003 which put an end to the clashes and disarmed the militia.
The local Church continued to urge the people to work for reconciliation, reject all forms of violence and seek to forgive each other. A joint call for peace and reconciliation was made by religious leaders in Solomon Islands following disorder which shook the nation over the past weeks. Condemning the violence the religious leaders said the country needs harmony and that social conflict must be avoided at all costs. The call to peace and forgiveness was echoed by the Catholic Archbishop of Honiara Adrian Smith. (Agenzia Fides 15/5/2006 righe 24 parole 248)