Solomon Islands elects Sikua as new PM

Solomon Islands lawmakers elected former education minister Derek Sikua as the Pacific nation's new prime minister on Thursday in a vote which points to closer cooperation with key donor nations.

Solomon Islands elects Sikua as new PM
Security was tight in Honiara for the vote, with police and international security forces keeping the public away from the parliament building and there was no sign of any trouble or a repeat of violence seen last year.

The Solomons went close to collapse in 2003 due to financial mismanagement, corruption and violence among rival clan gangs which ruled the streets of the capital, Honiara, before the arrival of international police and military forces.

Sikua was backed by opposition groups who last week secured the numbers to topple former prime minister Manasseh Sogavare in a no-confidence motion in the nation's parliament. He defeated Sogavare's deputy, Patteson Oti, 32 votes to 15.

'The recent political political leadership crisis has demonstrated the strength of our fundamental democratic institutions to ensure a just and democratic outcome,' Sikua told the Solomons parliament.

Sikua's victory is likely to ease tensions between the Solomons and key donors Australia and New Zealand, which have led an international police and military intervention to maintain law and order in the troubled country and save it from bankruptcy.

Sogavare had been a strong critic of the intervention, known as the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, accusing Australian police and government advisers of meddling in his country's affairs.

Sogavare also infuriated Canberra by appointing Australian citizen Julian Moti, wanted in Australia on child sex charges, as Solomons Attorney-General.

Sikua, a former bureaucrat and education minister who defected from Sogavare's government last month, had signalled he would send Moti to Australia to face trial.

Sogavare became prime minister in May 2006 in the aftermath of riots the previous month which destroyed mainly Chinese-owned businesses in Honiara after Snyder Rini was elected prime minister. Rini was later forced to step down.

The Solomon Islands is a nation of about 500,000 mainly Melanesian people, spread across hundreds of islands, which gained independence from Britain in 1978.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Aralık 2007, 12:30