There is rampant speculation about motives and possible changes in leadership after the mass resignation of ministers from the Democratic Coalition for Change Government over the weekend.
Nine ministers and nine backbenchers resigned, and in a statement released on Sunday, the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet said the resignations were orchestrated to derail introduction of the anti-corruption bill in Parliament on Monday.
“Some of these resignations come as no surprise based on the fact that some of these same Ministers were responsible for undermining the progress of the ACB and the Opposition and Independent Parliamentary Groups have inadvertently aligned themselves with this agenda,” the statement said.
But Member of Parliament for East Malaita Manasseh Maelanga, who resigned from his position as Deputy Prime Minister on Saturday, rejected the accusation.
Mr Maelanga said tying the resignations to the anti-corruption bill is a cheap attack strategy.
In an exclusive interview with SIBC News, Mr Maelanga said the former ministers of the Crown and backbenchers resigned based on individual grounds and personal convictions.
“When we resigned, it shows that there is no trust and confidence in the Prime Minister, and that is why we resigned,” Mr Maelanga said.
He said none of the ministers or backbenchers resigned out of fear of the anti-corruption bill as Prime Minister Sogavare claimed.
Mr Maelanga said, as Acting Prime Minister, he received the petition from civil society representatives in September to bring back the anti-corruption bill to Parliament. And he promised them the bill would be re-tabled.
He said he and the eight other Cabinet ministers who recently resigned will continue and complete their work to get the anti-corruption bill through Parliament before they leave the government.
“It’s a clear picture that it is not the anti-corruption bill that we resigned from,” Mr Maelanga said.
Mr Maelanga said he met with the chairman of civil society organisations’ Anti-Corruption Bill Committee and others advocating for reintroduction of the bill after Monday’s Parliament session and reassured them of his camp’s support for the bill. He said he told them the recent resignations were not related to the proposed legislation.
Although the motive behind the resignations cannot be known for certain, what is certain is that the Honiara Hotel camp now has 28 MPs in its fold.
The camp includes members of the Opposition and Independent groups, and defectors from the ruling government.
“Yesterday 26 of us sat down in Parliament,” Mr Maelanga said of the camp members on Monday.
On Tuesday, the number increased to 28 after resigned backbencher Dickson Mua and Elijah Doro Muala, who resigned from his portfolio as Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs over the weekend, joined the camp.
He said MPs in the camp are awaiting the change in leadership if the motion of no confidence in the Prime Minister, which was submitted by Leader of the Parliamentary Independent Group Dr Derek Sikua on Monday, is moved in Parliament.
However, there has been talk that some members of the Parliamentary Opposition Group are planning to join the Prime Minister in the ruling government.
In a statement, the Opposition dissociated itself from the rumors and said Opposition MPs will remain where they are.
Parliament is on special adjournment until Thursday and will resume for one day before adjourning to Monday, November 6. By that time, Dr Sikua’s motion of no confidence will have met the constitutional requirement of seven clear days’ notice and could be moved in Parliament.