Bad omen for 2018

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Government uncovers move to topple Prime Minister Hou, masterminded by senior minister

BY ALFRED SASAKO

THE Government may have smashed an internal plot to topple the two-month-old government of Prime Minister Ricky Houenipwela, insiders have revealed.

A senior government minister is linked to the plot, which officials uncovered about two weeks ago, insiders said.

They said the move might be linked to the non-payment of $50 million for the Hell’s Point waste land, east of Honiara.

Attorney General James Apaniai advised the Manasseh Sogavare government against making the payment ordered by the High Court, arguing the land could be repossessed under the 2014 amendment to the Land and Titles Act 2014 with minimal cost to taxpayers.

However, the previous government ignored the advice.

Instead, it unsuccessfully sought to borrow the money from one or two State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) including the Solomon Islands Ports Authority (SIPA) last year.

It is understood Prime Minister Hou has put his foot down on the payment, a move which has reportedly angered the senior minister who allegedly was the mastermind of the plot.

“It is obvious some people are desperate. But because the various sources for easy money have been blocked they’ve decided to use politics,” one insider familiar with the plot told Island Sun.

In the plot, a senior government minister allegedly approached former deputy prime minister, now Opposition Leader Manasseh Maelanga to team up with his former DCC leader, Manasseh Sogavare, in the bid to oust Prime Minister Hou.

Mr Maelanga reportedly declined the overtures.

“The Opposition is aware of what is going on but it chooses to remain neutral for a number of reasons. Reason number one is the fact the next election is just around the corner. What would voters think if we jumped again,” an Opposition insider said.

“The second is that the time is far too short for anyone to do anything. The Opposition would simply continue to discharge its Constitutional responsibilities until the next election,” the Opposition insider said.

Solomon Islands is due to go to the poll in March next year.

The plot has placed Prime Minister Hou in a dilemma, given that he’s aware the master-mind of the plot is a senior minister.

Earlier, speculations were rife that Hou was receiving advice on whether to sack a senior minister for allegedly causing instability in the two-month-old Solomon Islands Democratic Coalition for Change (SIDCC) government.

Hou became Prime Minister following a successful no-confidence motion sponsored by the Opposition last December.

A day later, Hou’s party, the Democratic Alliance Party (DAP) stunned the nation by opting out of a new coalition. Instead, DAP joined what was left of the Democratic Alliance for Change (DCC) Government.

Sogavare subsequently demanded and received two portfolios – the Deputy Prime Minister as well as Minister of Finance and Treasury – a move many had predicted could prove to be a headache for the new SIDCC partnership.

The SIDCC government coalition is made up of largely the Kadere Party, the Democratic Alliance Party (DAP) and other remnants of the DCC coalition which includes the People’s Alliance Party (PAP).

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