Gov’t told to discontinue security treaty with China
BY MAVIS N PODOKOLO
WOMEN’S group leaders in Honiara yesterday urged Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare to discontinue the security treat his government is negotiating with China.
“Sogavare must cancel the deal for the sake of this nation,” Rose Isukana of the Solomon Islands National Council of Women (SINCW) told reporters.
“Even if China and Solomon Islands are now in the process of finalizing the deal, there’s nothing that should stop Sogavare from revoking it,” Isukana, who is also a member of the West Are’Are Rokotanikeni Association (WARA), added.
“The security deal is not in the best interest of the country. So for the sake of the nation, Sogavare must cancel it.
“He and his government are abusing their powers in pursuing the security deal.”
Isukana was speaking at a press conference women’s group leaders held in Honiara yesterday.
SINCW president Ella Kahue said women in the country were not consulted on the proposed treaty.
“We are mothers of this nation, we are mothers of the future leaders of this country and we need to be engaged in dialogue,” Kahue said.
She said if the government is talking about public consultation, then why isn’t SINCW consulted?
“We felt that we are left out in the whole process, we kindly ask the government even if the draft agreement was already signed, they need to delay it and consult the women of this country.”
Ruth Liloqula, a member of SINCW and executive officer of Transparency Solomon Islands (TSI), also expressed concern.
“We are concerned because when you look at the draft agreement, it mentioned ‘social order’,” Liloqula said.
“But the social order is our sovereignty. It should not be given to any other country to do it for us,” she added.
“Because if you do that, you are selling the sovereignty of this country by giving them the very function that belongs to the state.”
Liloqula said the Government should be addressing the real issues such as lack of infrastructure development and high unemployment rate.
“This is how we should be addressing our security concerns than selling the sovereignty of this nation.”
Prime Minister Sogavare had defended the security arrangement.
“It is our view that securing an agreement with China is one way we can respond effectively to a broader range of development needs and aspirations that Solomon Islands needs to achieve in its journey towards its sustainable development goals,” Sogavare said.
Sogavare also dismissed suggestions the security agreement will lead to the establishment of a Chinese military base here.
“It will not be in the interest of Solomon Islands to host any naval or military base of any country, because that will immediately make the Solomon Islands a military target for other countries,” Sogavare said.
“Hosting any form of naval or military bases for foreign nations will destroy, not develop, Solomon Islands.”
Under the terms of the proposed security treaty, China could send police, military personnel, and other armed forces to the Solomon Islands “to assist in maintaining social order” and for a variety of other reasons.
It could also send warships for stopovers and to replenish supplies, leading to speculation about the possibility of China establishing a naval base here.
Australia, the US and New Zealand have expressed concerns over the arrangement.