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Deputy Premier apologising to PM and Govt
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MARA distances itself from Tuesday’s reconciliation with PM Sogavare

BY IRWIN ANGIKI

The Malaita Alliance for Rural Advancement (MARA) government of Malaita has distanced itself from a reconciliation with Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare this week.

Malaita Deputy Premier Glen Waneta, on Tuesday, initiated a reconciliation ceremony with Mr Sogavare during the ground breaking for Suava Bay’s growth centre and market projects, North Malaita.

The office of the prime minister has labelled the reconciliation as something “that was not planned as part of the official programme”.

In a media statement yesterday, the OPMC said: “Malaita’s Deputy Premier Glen Waneta on the occasion of the ground breaking ceremony at Suafa Bay, North Malaita, acted on a conviction by placing a Tafuliae (Shell Money) on Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Sogavare (that was not planned as part of the official program) and pleaded for forgiveness on behalf of the Malaita Provincial government for the setbacks caused to the rest of the nation.”

Sogavare has accepted this apology, also granting his forgiveness, according to the OPMC statement.

This was done on the understanding that the apology and begging for forgiveness was done on behalf of MARA for the political differences between it and Sogavare’s DCGA government.

“Prime Minister Sogavare assured the Malaita Deputy Premier, the National Government has fully accepted his apology saying, there is now no resentment between SIG and MARA.” The OPMC statement concludes.

However, in an attempt to clarify this yesterday, MARA has annulled any notion of a reconciliation between it and DCGA.

Rather, it claims the reconciliation was on a personal level for the PM being married to a Malaitan woman, the fact that she is from the northern region in which the ground-breaking ceremony was held, that she had accompanied her husband to the occasion, and that during last year’s November riots the couple’s home was damaged by looters, some of whom may have been Malaitans.

The MARA statement, disseminated by Premier Daniel Suidani’s political advisor Mr Celsius Talifilu yesterday evening said:

“It must be correctly stated that the reconciliation that took place between the Hon Prime Minister and the Deputy Premier was a kastom ceremony conducted in recognition of the fact that madam Sogavare is a Malaitan and she had accompanied her husband who is the prime minister to Suafa, Malaita province. And that during the recent riots in Honiara, there would be Malaitans who were also involved in the damaging of the PM’s property at Lunga.

“The reconciliation was to apologize to the PM for being married to a Malaita woman and that during the recent riots their property among other things was destroyed by looters that would also include people from Malaita province. Therefore by kastom, it is prudent that the Deputy Premier says sorry and apologies to madam Sogavare and her husband the Prime Minister on behalf of the people and government of Malaita province.

“The Deputy Premier would also like to state clearly that the reconciliation cannot be seen as a reconciliation between the MARA government and the DCGA government. That was not what the reconciliation was about. It was rather a kastom ceremony to say sorry and apologize to someone who is an in-law to a tribe in the northern region of Malaita.

“To be clear the reconciliation at the Suafa growth center has not altered nor changed any policy positions of the MARA Malaita Provincial government. This includes the MARA government’s position on development principles as set out in the Auki Malaita Communique and the 15 points log of claims submitted to the DCGA government on the second appointed day of the province in August. On the latter, it was the DCGA government that made the request for the log of claims. The MARA government is still waiting for any official responses from the DCGA government.”

While this statement from MARA may have cast dark clouds on a reconciliation many Solomon Islanders were looking forward to, it gives some hope going forward for the two governments.

In concluding, the MARA statement says: “It could be that this is a stepping stone to a more concrete reconciliation ceremony in the future where the issues contained in the 15 points log of claims to the DCGA government could be discussed and addressed. Similarly, other issues of concern between the two governments could also be settled once and for all.”

Meanwhile, witnesses to the reconciliation told Island Sun last night that they did not hear Deputy Premier Waneta mention anything as claimed by the MARA statement at the occasion.

“We heard Waneta say that he acted on behalf of Malaitans and the MARA government and that the reconciliation was to apologise to PM Sogavare and humbly ask his forgiveness for ‘whatever our shortcomings, what we caused to the nation and setbacks we caused’,” the witnesses say.

“Perhaps Waneta may have forgotten to explain to the prime minister and everyone present what the sudden reconciliation was for.”

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