The Solomon Islands is without a formal Prime Minister tonight after the motion of no confidence against Manasseh Sogavare passed Parliament this evening after more than nine hours of debate.
It means a new government – and almost certainly a new Prime Minister – is set to take control of the country following a frantic lobbying period which expected following today’s vote.
A vote on the new Prime Minister will eventually take place after the Governor-General is notified by Sogavare. No specific time frame has been set, however.
Independent group leader and member for Northeast Guadalcanal Dr Derek Sikua was singled out – by Sogavare himself, who accused him of treachery – as the potential next Prime Minister, however as many as five names have been thrown into the mix.
An emotional Sogavare said he would walk out with his head up “because I have done nothing wrong against the people of this country”.
The motion passed 27-23 following a vitriolic session of Parliament today, where fierce debate centred on the integrity of projects, and accusations of corruption were flung across the floor.
Accusations of kickbacks involving projects such as the Tina River Hydro Scheme, the Skyline Housing project, the fibre optic cable were central to the debate.
PM integrity questioned
The integrity of the now deposed Prime Minister was questioned multiple times during the session, and Sogavare, referring to himself in the third person as “the Prime Minister” throughout his speech, addressed almost all of them in a sprawling 90 minute oration.
Sogavare said he had been targeted by a group motivated by “deliberate lies” to “assassinate” his leadership.
He singled out Dr Sikua, and accused him of wanting to become the next Prime Minister.
“It is sad that innocent members of Parliament have become hopeless victims in this plan,” he said.
Sogavare also accused MPs of knowingly misleading the public about their intentions surrounding the anti-corruption bill, and its delay, and using it as a tactic to undermine him.
“My only mistake is that I stood up against corruption and corrupt leaders.
“A vote for yes is a vote for corruption,” he said.
Sogavare hits back
He said concerns over the issue of hiring his nephew as chief of staff screamed of hypocrisy, and questioned why it was an issue that would trigger the move on his leadership.
“We need to clean up our own backyard before we start pointing the finger.
“If you vote “I” you vote with a guilty conscience, because it’s not right,” Sogavare said.
In response Dr Sikua said he was not simply opportunistic and was doing it for the right reasons.
He said all he needed was the numbers.
The marathon session ended at 6.45pm after Parliament opened at 9.30am.
The Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation (SIBC) reports Sogavare refused to resign this morning after being asked by Dr Sikua on the floor of Parliament.
Consolidation efforts fail
The motion of no-confidence was received on Sunday, October 29, following the sudden resignations of several MPs and backbenchers who switched allegiance to the Opposition.
The successful motion comes despite efforts last week by Sogavare to consolidate his power and the return of MPs Moses Garu and Dickson Mua to the ranks of the Democratic Coalition for Change Government (DCCG).