Churches maintain opposition to gov’t plans to extend parliament
By EDDIE OSIFELO
SOLOMON Islands Christian Association (SICA) still maintain its stand in opposing the government’s proposal to extend the life of parliament from four to five years.
This came in the wake of a statement from the Office of the Prime Minister following an open dialogue on the issue with SICA and its sister association, the Solomon Islands Full Gospel Association (SIFGA) Monday this week.
The statement claimed the dialogue led to greater understanding by the two church bodies of the government’s intention.
However, SICA vice president, Bishop Rev. Eric Maefonea said there is no resolution or communiqué reached at the end of the dialogue.
Maefonea, who is head of the South Seas Evangelical Church (SSEC), said the officials of Office of Prime Minister and Cabinet only clarified further questions raised by SICA and SIFGA.
But he explained the clarification does not change the stand of SICA on the issue at all.
SICA’s voice adds to the growing string of disapproval by peoples and organisations in the country toward’s DCGA government’s proposal.
Late last month, East Kwaio constituents advised their member of parliament not to bother carrying out a planned visit to the constituency to discuss the extension proposal.
The National Council of Women (SINCW), Transparency Solomon Islands, the parliamentary opposition and independent groups, the umbrella body of civil societies – the Development Services Exchange (DSE), and other prominent bodies and individual citizens have come out since April last year disagreeing with this DCGA proposal.
SICA, which represents the main Christian churches in the country, said the churches “do not welcome the idea of the extension of parliament from [four] to [five] years per term, but would like to see the National General Elections (NGE) taking place next year 2023, few months before the Pacific Games in November.
“We feel that the national constitution and the Pacific games if weighed on a scale, the national constitution would have more weight than the Pacific games. Therefore, we feel that only the Pacific games can be pushed forward to take place in 2024, but not the NGE.
“We feel that the Pacific games (or any other games for that matter), is not in a better position to influence and change our national constitution, we need to avoid that bad precedence.”