OPPOSITION Leader Hon Matthew Wale says it was surprising to note the Prime Minister’s statement in his recent nationwide address labelling the events of 24th November 2021 as an attempted coup.
The Prime Minister in his address recently stated a coup was attempted on 24th November 2021 when certain people breached restrictions and entered Parliament premises to force him to resign as Prime Minister, and topple a democratically elected government.
In response Hon Wale said, the only coup in the country’s history was the events of June 2000 when the now defunct Malaita Eagle Force and rogue elements of the RSIPF held the late former Prime Minister, the then MP for Aoke Langalanga Bartholomew Ulu’ufalu at gunpoint, subsequently forcing his resignation.
Hon Wale said the current Prime Minister had prior knowledge of the June 2000 coup, and he was the political beneficiary of it.
“As I remember it, there was a protest on 24th November 2021 that turned violent when protesters realized that the PM had run away to hide from them. The regrettable aftermath therefore was perhaps the result of frustrations over the PM’s action then, and his consistent refusal to acknowledge, and enter into dialogue over the grievances of the protesters over a long period of time. But it was unfortunate that the PM always had time to meet with loggers than his own people. The PM must take responsibility as a national leader and not blame others. There was no attempted coup,” he said.
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Hon Wale also said, whilst he supports the call by the Chief Justice for a Commission of Inquiry to determine the cause of the events of November 2021, he is concerned that the head of the Judiciary may have overstepped his boundary in tendering advice to the Executive branch of government on this important matter of public interest.
“The likelihood of any aggrieved person taking up judicial review action based on the outcomes of such an inquiry is real hence, it was incumbent on the judiciary not to have engaged in, or consider doing so in any discussions with the Executive on this matter. It is entirely possible that there might be an application for Judicial Review of matters under such a Commission of Inquiry, and it is important that the Judiciary maintain its perception of independence,” he said.
Hon Wale said it is in the best interest of the public that the Judiciary is seen to be neutral.
Furthermore, the Opposition Leader noted, our recent history with respect to such inquiries has not been encouraging pointing to the fact thatthat the 2006 Riots Commission of Inquiry Report, which contained a number of key recommendations was never implemented by the government.
He said our experience with Commissions of Inquiry isn’t very good.
“However, there is a need to better and more fully understand the causes of the violence and learn lessons in how to ensure such events does not happen again. Of course the police must continue their criminal investigations also,” Hon. Wale said.