Economic disenchantment root cause of Solomons rioting

A former priest in the Solomon Islands said government corruption and economic disenchantment are the root causes behind the Islands' riots following Tuesday's election of Prime Minister Snyder Rini.

According to The Australian, Solomon Islands Development Trust founder Dr John Roughan also said the "shuffling of the chairs" at the election did not help the situation.

Although The Australian described him as a priest, Dr Roughan left the priesthood many years ago and has since 1958 been engaged in development work in the Solomon Islands.

He said yesterday that many voters expected Mr Rini and his predecessor, Allan Kemakeza, to be ousted in the general election after years of claims of kickbacks and misappropriation spanning two successive governments

Solomon Islanders thought they "were going to be investigated and sent to trial, and they were not", he said.

Sir Allan faces corruption allegations over a $US25 million ($33.8 million) loan from Taiwan - whose sovereignty the Solomons had controversially recognised in the United Nations - to pay compensation on property damaged in the civil war that raged from 1998 to 2003.

While most people affected by the civil war received no money, it was later discovered that Sir Allan had organised $US1.5 million for his family. The scandal was largely behind the swing against his government and, some say, his decision to step aside.

In the background of alleged corrupt deals are also the ethnic Chinese, who dominate trade in the capital, Chinese and Malaysian loggers, Japanese tuna fishermen and the Taiwanese.

It is the buying of votes or "Chinese money" - a slur in Honiara chanted outside parliament on Tuesday when Mr Rini's election was announced - that many believe was behind the former public servant's elevation to the top job.

Graft claims over PM sparked strife (The Australian/news.com.au 20/4/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Solomon Islands Development Trust

Caritas funds election booklet to support Solomons democracy (CathNews 15/2/06)

Corruption claims sparked violence (The Australian 20/4/06)

20 Apr 2006