Govt exercises caution with federal constitution

Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare
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GOVERNMENT is taking a cautionary approach in dealing with the Federal Constitution to give state governance to the provinces in order to avoid disintegrating the country.

This was after big provinces like Guadalcanal, Western and Malaita demanded self-autonomy rather than being the agents of the National Government under the Unitary system.

Guadalcanal has given the National Government until 2026 to become a state government.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare told Parliament yesterday they are concerned about national unity because the country has been coexisting before independence and inter-marriage has already spread throughout the country.

He said the formula inside will come down to kind of powers to state government to encourage not to break away.

Sogavare said there are also close ethnic ties between people in eastern region with Vanuatu and people of Western Province and Choiseul with Bougainville.

“We need to handle it very carefully.

“When we give state government, we guarantee a country that survive. Not everyone will go one time,” he added.

Opposition Leader, Matthew Wale urged the Prime Minister to exercise maturity and responsibility and not react to passing emotion.

It needs two thirds of Parliamentary support to pass the Federal Constitution System.

The development of the draft Federal constitution started in 2004 with support from UNDP.

More than $100 million was spent on awareness and consultation on the draft constitution.

The Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands resisted it base on costs and consultation started again in 2009 but could not reach any resolution.

The Constitutional Reform Unit in the Office of Prime Minister continued the work on the draft Federal report in 2011 and 2014.

The Government has also engaged eminent constitutional scholar, Professor Yash Ghai to review the draft Federal Constitution.

The push for the change of governing system came about after bigger provinces like Western Province and Guadalcanal argued that most of the revenues in the National budget derived from their resources.