Guadalcanal province raises concern over traditional governance bill
GUADALCANAL provincial government and stakeholders are concerned with the consultation programme being carried out by the ministry of peace (MNURP) on the traditional governance bill (TGB).
Guadalcanal stakeholders include Guadalcanal representative at the Constitutional Reform Unit (CRU) within the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (OPMC), the Eminent Persons Advisory Council (EPAC) and Constitutional Congress (CC) members together with the Guadalcanal Province Post Conflict Rehabilitation and Restoration Association (GPPCRRA).
and the Guadalcanal Provincial Government (GPG) have decided to issue a joint statement as a matter of concern over the consultation programme on the Traditional Governance Bill (TGB) currently conducted by the Ministry of National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace (MNURP).
In a joint media statement yesterday, they expressed concern regarding the timing of the consultation exercise and the potentials of the outcome of the exercise to derail the much-anticipated introduction and passage of the Federal System of Governance.
The group sees the constitutional reform exercise within the OPMC, as a national much-desired major reform in the country that is long overdue.
The reform has been supported by successive governments in the creation of the CRU and the facilitation of the EPAC and CC members for the drafting of the federal constitution.
Representatives of the EPAC and CC members questioned the very short timing of the processes the bill involved from consultation to the legislative stages before ascending to become an Act.
They believe the TG bill will need years for repeated consultations and public awareness and comments from different sectors of the society.
“It is a massive amount of task and we cannot develop a one-size-fit all framework on traditional governance in Solomon Islands overnight.
“The exercise therefore could be a well-orchestrated move by the Kandere Party for their political convenience at the expense of public funds.
“With the clock ticking before the next General Election, it seems as we are going to have a bill that is rushed and should it happened to be passed, it shall be yet another half-cooked legislation.”
The major concern the joint statement wishes to highlight is the potential for TGB to derail the much-anticipated passage of the draft federal constitution since it is now at its final stage ready to be handed to the government.
“It seems that the government is saying one thing but is doing the opposite. We are confused and must send a strong warning to the government.
“The need to recognise and strengthen our traditional leaders is accommodated in the Federal Constitution in the community government sphere of the federal system.
“Therefore if the government and Kandere party are serious, they simply need to pass the Federal Constitution and let the traditional governance tier born out of our home grown Constitution instead of another stand-alone Act of parliament.
“The current exercise by the MNURP is a duplication of exercises the Constitutional Reform Unit with the EPAC and CC members are already conducting hence a waste of public funds.”
A representative from GPPCRRA noted that any political move to derail the passage of the Federal Constitution will be met with resistance.
‘’The Federal System of Governance is what we struggled for, we hunger, shed our blood and tears for it. Our women and children suffer for the cause. We cannot wait any longer and entertain anymore delaying tactics,” the representative said.
Meanwhile the Guadalcanal provincial assembly, Premier and current GP-executive government maintained its unwavering position for the implementation of the Federal System of governance.
That position has never changed since day one.
The provincial government position since the Buala Communique and then the Townsville Peace Agreement and then the Honiara Communique has been the same.
“We are for the wishes of the People of Guadalcanal and that is for the attainment of the Federal system of governance. We do not understand why the MNURP is now doing the consultation on the TG bill as if MNURP is attempting to strengthen the current unitary system.
“The Constitutional Reform Unit the CC and EPAC members, had already made a lot of wider consultations on the Federal Constitution around the country and with University students around the region.
“The nation and the people have spoken. Our Chiefs and traditional and community leaders are now waiting for the coming of the Federal system of governance.
“The current consultation of the TG bill on the same issue will only get our communities confused, agitated and suspicious about the national governments real intentions.
“With that, the GP team is prepared to adopt and implement the federal system of governance at any point of time.
“Thus any further delays at this time is unwelcomed and is unacceptable as far as Guadalcanal Province and its people is concerned.”
The statement concludes that to do justice to the wishes of Guadalcanal people and Solomon Islands, the government must halt the expensive traditional governance consultation exercise and prepare for the implementation and smooth passage on the Draft Federal Constitution with which traditional governance has been provided for therein and is born from the home grown constitution.