Churches talk out on secret bilateral MOUs

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Churches have cautioned government on signing secret agreements with the country’s bilateral partners.

Transparency and public consultations must accompany any “international MOUs and MOAs with the Solomon Islands”, SICA (Solomon Islands Christian Association) said in a media statement on Wednesday.

SICA, which represents the main Christian denominations in the country, stresses that “proper consultations should be conducted prior the signing of any international documents”.

SICA made this call along with its announcement that the churches were against government’s proposal to extend parliament’s life from four to five years.

The DCGA government has been embroiled in secretive agreements with China, made known to the public only through leaked documents.

This has caused citizens and concerned regional and international communities to question the Sogavare-led government.

Both China and Solomon Islands governments have defended their actions by fronting the cliches of “respecting each country’s sovereignty” and “China helping Solomon Islands at the latter’s request”, not really answering why they secrecy surrounding the agreements.

The most recent is the controversial security deal between the two countries, which was also only made known after it was leaked in April this year.

Both governments, following the leak, went on ahead and signed the agreement despite the huge outcry both locally and abroad.

Contents of the signed document has not been disclosed by either country.

SICA says this should not be entertained by Solomon Islands’ government.

“The churches feel that there must be transparency for any international MOUs and MOAs with the Solomon Islands.

“These international documents should be made public before the actual signing.

“We feel that proper consultations should be conducted prior the signing of any international documents,” SICA says.

“The churches feel that it is part and parcel of their responsibilities to suggest avenues/ways that would bring about peace and unity to the citizens and residence in the Solomon Islands.

“The experiences encountered during the burning and looting of China Town in November 2021 and previous unrest made the churches feel that it should make this statement, because we (the churches) would not like to see any more civil unrest in this peaceful nation.

“We would like to bring about a peaceful unifying strategy so that we maintain the peace, love and unity of Christ in the Solomon Islands.

“Finally, we (the SICA Executive) are willing and are also open to any round table discussion with the government if requested.”

SICA says they are prepared to sit down and talk with the Government on these issues.