Sogavare out as no confidence motion passes

Deposed Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.

The Solomon Islands will have a new Prime Minister after the motion of no confidence against Manasseh Sogavare passed Parliament this evening after more than nine hours of debate.

It means a new Government is set to take control of the country, with a new Prime Minister, following a frantic lobbying period expected after today’s vote.

A vote on the new Prime Minister will eventually take place after the Governor General is notified by Mr Sogavare, as early as tomorrow, however as yet no specific time frame has been set.

Mr Sogavare will remain as caretaker PM until the Governor General is notified, and from there commentators were suggesting a period of four days and perhaps even into next week before a new leader is voted in.

Independent Group leader and member for Northeast Guadalcanal Dr Derek Sikua was singled out – by Mr Sogavare himself, who accused him of treachery – as the potential next Prime Minister, however as many as five names have been thrown into the mix.

An emotional Mr Sogavare said he would walk out with his head up “because I have done nothing wrong against the people of this country”.

The motion passed 27-23 following a vitriolic session of Parliament today, where fierce debate centred on the integrity of national projects, and accusations of corruption were flung across the floor.

Accusations of kickbacks involving projects such as the Tina River Hydro Scheme, the Skyline Housing project and the fibre optic cable were central to the debate.

The integrity of the now deposed Prime Minister was questioned multiple times during the session, and Mr Sogavare, referring to himself in the third person as “the Prime Minister” throughout his speech, addressed almost all of them in a sprawling 90 minute oration.

Mr Sogavare said he had been targeted by a group motivated by “deliberate lies” to “assassinate” his leadership.

He singled out Independent Group leader Dr Sikua, and accused him wanting to become the next Prime Minister.

“It is sad that innocent members of Parliament have become hopeless victims in this plan,” he said.

Mr Sogavare also accused MPs are knowingly misleading the public about their intentions surrounding the anti-corruption bill, and its delay. He said they used it as a tactic to undermine him.

“My only mistake is that I stood up against corruption and corrupt leaders,” he said. “A vote for yes today is a vote for corruption”

He said concerns over the issue of him hiring his nephew as chief of staff screamed of hypocrisy, and questioned why it was an issue that would trigger the move on his Prime Ministership.

“We need to clean up our own backyard before we start pointing the finger,” he said. “If you vote “I” you vote with a guilty conscience, because it’s not right”

In response Dr Sikua said he was not simply opportunistic and was doing it for the right reasons.

He said all he needed was the numbers.

The marathon session ended at 6.45pm after Parliament opened at 9.30am.

Keep an eye on SIBC Online and SIBC Unified Voice for further developments. 

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