Parliament extends State of Public Emergency to four months

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National Parliament of Solomon Islands
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By EDDIE OSIFELO

PARLIAMENT on Tuesday 7th April approved that the State of Public Emergency shall continue in force until the expiration of a period of four months.

Forty (40) members of Government, Opposition and Independent benches have thrown their support on the motion moved by Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare during the divisional vote in Parliament.

 Eight members were absent during the voting.

Former Minister of Education and Human Resources John Moffat Fugui and MP for North East Guadalcanal, Jamie Vokia vacated their seats after they lost their election petition cases recently.

PM Sogavare said he was overwhelmed by the spirit of unity that manifested in the house for the first time a matter discussed where everyone agreed on points to put on floor.

He said it was amazing what a national crisis can do, it actually unites the country together.

“Where it starts, it starts appropriately here in this house.

“When the motion was debated, it was overwhelming supported by all members of the house,” he said.

Sogavare said the government took note of a lot of issues raised and would address through relevant ministries.

In addition, he said the powers given to him under the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) are not absolute and sweeping powers.

However, Sogavare said in times like this you don’t need to negotiate but for people to carry out orders.

He said the existence of State of Public Emergency does not means all rights of citizens are suspended but allow these rights to be curtailed.

“The State of Public Emergency allows the Excellency to evoke powers under the Emergency Powers Act to make regulations for the exercise of the powers prescribed the particular regulations.

“In this case it evokes the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) 2020,” he said.

Sogavare said the powers are to address the COVID-19 and not to do anything under the sun.

A state of emergency is a situation in which a government is empowered to perform actions or impose policies that it would normally not be permitted to undertake.

A government can declare such a state during a natural disaster, medical pandemic/epidemic, civil unrest, or armed conflict.

Such declarations are designed to alert citizens to change their normal behaviour and orders government agencies to implement emergency plans.

This was the second SOE in 20 years after former Governor General Sir John Lapli declared it in 2000 following the ethnic conflict on Guadalcanal.

Parliament adjourns to Monday 27th July 2020 unless the Speaker recalls Parliament earlier.

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