Pacific News Minute: Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare Ousted in Solomon Islands

Nov 7, 2017

Manasseh Sogavare with Australian High Commissioner Andrew Byrne in 2014.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

There will be a new government in the Solomon Islands. Yesterday, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare was defeated in a vote of no confidence amid allegations of corruption, nepotism and failure to consult with his colleagues. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

In an impromptu address to an audience of young people in Honiara last month, Manasseh Sogavare recalled that he dropped out of school after a teacher called him “Mr. Nobody.” His first job was to make tea and clean toilets for British Colonial officials.

“You’re not Mr. Nobody,” he declared. "And if some of us can rise from making tea and cleaning toilets, you can do anything.”

Sogavare, now 62, served a brief term as prime minister in 2000, then another in 2006 – both amid the violence that locals call “The Tensions.” It took an Australian lead force called RAMSI to restore order. At the time, Sogavare bitterly opposed what he regarded as neocolonial interference. Elected Prime Minister again in 2014, Sogavare presided over the final withdrawal of Ramsi earlier this year, which he then praised as “divine intervention.”

The Prime Minister allegedly took a five million dollar bribe in exchange for a contract to a Chinese telecoms giant to build an undersea cable to Australia. He denied it.

In Parliament on Monday, his critics charged less extravagant forms of corruption, including the appointment of family members to government posts, and many complained that Sogavare had stopped listening to them. Opposition leader Derek Sikua said, “My greatest sadness is that all too often, the prime minister sees fit to lower himself to submit to advice from individuals with dubious character.”

Sogavare lost the vote 27-23, half of his own party voted with the opposition.