Public rally against anti-corruption bill withdrawal

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By Alfred Sasako

 

AS the impact of the decision by the DCC Government to withdraw the Anti-Corruption Bill sinks in, concerned citizens are rallying to show their displeasure.

A meeting of like-minded citizens is due to be held at the YWCA Hall in Honiara today.

The citizens comprising NGOs and others say they are concerned because withdrawing the Anti-Corruption Bill by the DCC Government has implications on the outcome of the 2019 National General Elections.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare ‘sacrificed’ the Anti-Corruption Bill on Monday in a move seen by many as the last attempt to keep the members of the DCC Government together.

That decision however has drawn the ire of the Opposition as well as members of the public. The Opposition for example, accused Prime Minister Sogavare of “lying” to the nation.

Mr Sogavare on Monday used the floor of Parliament to withdraw the much-talked about Bill, which had divided his government for the last 12 months. While some Government MPs were prepared to go through with the Bill, others were not so keen, threatening a mass walkout should the Prime Minister proceed with tabling it in the House.

Thirty-one MPs including Mr Sogavare voted to withdraw the Bill. According to the Hansard transcript, they are:

 

Hon Peter Shanel Agovaka

Hon Ishmael Avui

Hon Jackson Fiulaua

Hon John Fugui

Hon Moses Garu

Hon Samuel Iduri

Hon Dr Tautai

Hon Dudley Kopu

Hon Augustine Auga

Hon John Maneniaru

Hon Andrew Maneporaa

Hon Samuel Manetoali

Hon Marau

Hon Mewa

Hon Doromuala

Hon David Day Pacha

Hon Dickson Mua

Hon Bartholomew Parapolo

Hon Danny Philip

Hon Snyder Rini

Hon Stanley Sofu

Hon Manasseh Sogavare

Hon Jimson Tana

Hon Silas Vangara

Hon Bradley Tovusia

Hon Milner Tozaka

Hon Freda Tuki

Hon Sam Maneka

To prevent the internal division spilling into the public arena, Mr Sogavare delivered what the anti-corruption crusade in his government had always fought for. By withdrawing the Bill, he has delivered victory to MPs including Ministers opposed to the Bill.

The withdrawal of the Bill also sank Mr Sogavare’s own passion about tackling corruption in Solomon Islands. In so doing, he has embraced the status quo.

Mr Sogavare told Parliament that the Bill was withdrawn so that Cabinet would have another look at it.

In a somewhat rowdy debate preceding the vote, it appeared the government had lost support for withdrawing the Bill when it was put to the vote on voices. The DCC Government won the vote in a subsequent division.

When the numbers were tallied, 31 MPs including Prime Minister Sogavare himself voted in support of withdrawing the Bill, Nine (9) were against and 10 were absent.

The success of Mr Sogavare’s calculated scheme – described by some as saving grace for his wounded government – is subject to conjecture. One thing is certain, the fight has barely begun.

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