Dr Sikua: I have the duty to speak out

THE Leader of Independent Group, Dr Derek Sikua said he was astounded at the Prime Minister’s attacking response in the daily Newspapers, Monday.

Manasseh Sogavare described Dr Sikua as ‘irresponsible and power hungry’ in a response to Dr Sikua’s press statement late last week on the issue of $3million payout to former combatants.

“This issue of ex-militant payments is a matter of national importance, and it has nothing to do with being power hungry or frustrated, neither being irresponsible on my part as bemoaned by the Prime Minister,” Dr Sikua said in a statement yesterday.

He said as a national leader who cares about the well-being of this country and people, “I have a duty to speak out on the veracity of matters embarked upon by the government”.

“It is the Prime Minister himself who is being irresponsible, power hungry, and over-stepping his boundaries by using terminologies he hoped would make the issue go away.”

Dr. Sikua said it has become a common trend the way in which Mr.Sogavare has been displaying inconsistency in his responses to genuine concerns raised by senior citizens, and leaders of the country and the general public who continued to express total dissatisfaction on his controversial decision pertaining to the cash payment he has made to address the many issues related to the ethnic crisis.

“In the PM’s rebuttal, he seemed to contradict himself by using the term ‘rehabilitation’, to mean the same as ‘cash pay-outs’.

“Strictly these words have no correlation when it comes to the true spirit of the TPA, DCCG policy objective or the Solomon Islands National Peace-building Policy developed by the MNURP in collaboration with the UNDP (SI) and CPAD in around 2012,” he said.

“In fact, Mr. Sogavare is trying his best to engineer and manipulate the issue to rebuild his public image, with the hope that it will eventually be swept under the carpet,” said Dr.Sikua.

“ But my firm belief is that any government who is serious about promoting healing and reconciliation, and achieving lasting and sustainable peace amongst our people and for our country must implement the recommendations contained in the TRC Report without further delay,” he said.

He pointed out that the TRC recommendations are divided into two parts.

He said the first addresses the outstanding issues from the tension.

“These are issues that have come out as a result of the ethnic tension and need for immediate attention before we can close this chapter of our history.”

He said these issues will shape the priority healing recommendations for the government to implement as soon as possible regarding the victims; vulnerable population such as women, youth and children; former combatants, and reconciliation.

Dr. Sikua said the second set of recommendations concerns institutional reforms; they address issues that have long been inherent in the adopted governance system that the country embraced from Great Britain.

“The state institutions’ inability to respond effectively before and during the tension reflected the weaknesses identified with certain institutions, thus the call for institutional reform.”

He said although the reforms will require a long-term commitment and understanding to fulfil, the TRC believes that in order for Solomon Islands to achieve and sustain long-term peace and security, it has to start reforming the institutions now.

“The institutions we are talking about here are mainly to do with the Constitution; Land; Justice System; Security; Health; Education, and Corruption,” he said.

“Furthermore, another question raised by members of the public is: what about the human rights violation suffered by victims and identified by the TRC as most prevalent during the conflict such as killings; abductions/illegal detentions; torture/ill-treatment; sexual violence; property violations, and forced displacements.

“Is Mr Sogavare going to include payment for them under the ‘Rehabilitation’ programme he is proposing for the former combatants? If not, why?

“Therefore, whichever way one looks, there does not seem to be any firm basis to justify the PMs and the DCC Government’s actions for making cash payments to some former MEF militants in late December, 2015,” he explained.

“Let me remind the PM that the policy objective for this issue is rehabilitation in the form of ‘livelihood programs’ and not cash pay-outs. So what is the PM trying to say in light of the gaffe he created in contrary to his government’s policy? While the policy is clear, the PM decided to step outside the parameters of the TPA, DCCG Policy Statement, TRC Recommendations, and the National Peacebuilding Policy.  Why does PM Sogavare have to come up with another policy on rehabilitating the ex-combatants when all that needs to be done has been clearly spelt out in various official documents,”?

“If the Prime Minister is serious and genuine about addressing the issues related to the ethnic crisis, another logical question posed by some members of the public is: why does he have to pay just a certain group, and not the rest of the warring parties?

“This only reflects biasness on the PM’s part, rather than collectively addressing the ethnic crisis related issues once and for all.

“Mr Sogavare’s arguments are childish, lack logic and common sense – making him a laughing stock to many people for making statements that lack objectivity and constructiveness.

“The Prime Minister must put a stop to his ‘feel good’ brand of politics, and start doing the right thing to take this Country forward instead of taking us round in circles,” Dr.Sikua concluded.

Source: Office of the Leader of Independent Group