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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 August 2007, 03:39 GMT 04:39 UK
Tensions ahead of Solomons vote
By Phil Mercer
BBC News, Sydney

Solomon Islands PM Manasseh Sogavare (file image from May 2006)
PM Manasseh Sogavare faces a second no-confidence vote
Tensions are rising in the Solomon Islands after the arrest of an opposition MP ahead of a no-confidence motion against PM Manasseh Sogavare.

The vote, due on Friday, was called by the opposition over Mr Sogavare's controversial appointment of Julian Moti as attorney-general.

Mr Moti is wanted in Australia to answer child sex charges.

The Solomon Islands are home to half-a-million mostly Melanesian people in the South Pacific.

These are testing times for Manasseh Sogavare.

The prime minister is preparing to face another vote of no-confidence - the second since he came to power 15 months ago.

There are fears that if his government is defeated, there could be a repeat of the politically-motivated violence that left parts of the capital, Honiara, in ruins in 2006.

Attorney general

At the heart of the current turmoil is the swearing in of an international fugitive as attorney general.

Julian Moti
Attorney-General Julian Moti has denied any wrongdoing

Julian Moti, an Australian lawyer, is wanted back home on child sex charges.

The opposition has objected to his appointment and believes the Solomon Islands' government has acted irresponsibly.

The prime minister has called the case against Mr Moti a "malicious conspiracy". He has refused to extradite his cabinet colleague back to Australia and has accused Canberra of trying to destabilise his administration.

The Moti affair has soured relations between the Solomon Islands and its powerful neighbour.

Australia led a multi-national military intervention in the South Pacific archipelago in 2003. Its aim was to quell ethnic fighting that had taken the country to the brink of anarchy.

Order was quickly restored but fierce tribal and political differences still fester.

A motion of no-confidence in Prime Minister Sogavare could well be a bitter and dirty business.

A prominent member of the opposition in the Solomon Islands has been charged with using bribes to try to influence the vote. He strongly denies the allegations and claims they are part of a plot by his rivals to tarnish his reputation.


SEE ALSO
Solomons legal chief is sworn in
10 Jul 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Solomons' attorney-general held
29 Sep 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Solomons PM criticises Australia
18 Sep 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Australia issues Solomons threat
13 Sep 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Inquiry to probe Solomons riots
14 Jul 06 |  Asia-Pacific
New PM elected in Solomon Islands
04 May 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Solomons MP faces riot charge
25 Apr 06 |  Asia-Pacific

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