Premier warns NGO

By Mike Puia

Premier of Temotu Province, David Maina

PREMIER of Temotu province, David Maina, has threatened to kick out Oxfam International from the remote province.

Premier Maina’s threat comes after a meeting with Santa Cruz landowners’ earlier this week.

During that meeting, landowners who are members of the Graciosa Bay Governing Council (GBGC) presented a list of demands to Premier Maina and members of his executive.

The demands are related to a proposed bauxite mining that is making progress in the province. One of the demands is a call on Premier Maina to resign.

GBGC is pursuing their government to revoke the business licence it awarded to the Australian mining company, Pacific Bauxite Company.

These demands were signed by Phelix Nani, chairman of the council and a staff of Oxfam based in Lata.

Referring to Nani’s involvement, Mr Maina said Oxfam is here to help the province and not to involve in politics.

“The province… will issue a paper soon to remove Oxfam from the province,” Maina said.

Meanwhile, defending his involvement, Mr Nani said he had declared to Oxfam his affiliation to land issues in his home.

He said he also declared before the meeting started that what he shares are not of Oxfam but his own as a landowner.

“I decided to involve in these issues because it threatened the lives of my people,” Nani said.

He said representatives from the churches, Telekom, hospital, teachers, women, marine environment also attended.

“During our dialogue with the province, we represented landowners, not our employers,” Nani said.

Oxfam country director, Dolores Devesi, said the organisation is no involved in the issue.

Devesi said it is sad that some people failed to recognise professional and personal lines.

She said their project in the province focuses on gender-based violence which has nothing to do with land rights.

She said their staff in point has declared to them that he is a landowner.

“We don’t demand leaders to step down. It’s not our place to demand such,” Devesi said.

She said they also sought to support people.

The Oxfam country head confirmed their office in Honiara and Lata were not given copies of any letter from the premier to inform them of the issue.

She said they hope to communicate with the provincial government to fix the issue.

Oxfam’s programme here, started in 2001, and is part of its Pacific regional program, along with programmes in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu.


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