Solomon Islands Cabinet split over choice of Police Commissioner

Peter Aoranisaka. Image credit. Solomon Star
Honiara (Solomon Star): Cabinet was bitterly split on the appointment of Peter Aoranisaka as Police Commissioner, it was revealed on the weekend.

Mr. Aoranisaka was third on the short list of five recommended by the Police and Correctional Service Commission.

Those familiar with the recommendation said number one on the list was Englishman, Frank Short followed by Edmund Sikua in second place, Mr. Aoranisaka at third and former acting commissioner and Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo’s choice, Walter Kola was in fourth place. 

Discussions on the appointment dominated Cabinet deliberations last Friday. 

“There was heated discussion in Cabinet. Some Ministers feel that the Prime Minister is not listening to what the public is and has been saying on the matter,” sources said. 

Interestingly, no one supported the Prime Minister’s choice. 

“Naturally, he fell for the third man on the shortlist, largely because Mr. Aoranisaka is supported by the most powerful and influential group in government. The faction is led by the Chairman of Government Caucus and MP for West Honiara, Hon Namson Tran. 

“Other members of the group include Deputy Prime Minister and MP for East Malaita, Hon Manasseh Maelanga,” the sources said. 

But some Guadalcanal MPs who have been pushing for Edmund Sikua, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Police and National Security, were reportedly disappointed. 

“Some Ministers actually walked out from the meeting last Friday out of frustration. But they did so with the understanding that Cabinet’s conclusion on the appointment would be sent back to the Commission. But lo and behold, the Prime Minister announced the appointment in the paper the next day,” one source said. 

Why the hurry is not known. 

But observers say the fact that the appointment of the Prime Minister’s initial choice was pre-empted earlier leaving him little or no room to maneuver had forced him to rush the appointment. 

“He (the Prime Minister) does not want to get caught out again. At the same time he is under pressure to ensure the interest of Hon Tran’s faction is satisfied, given that the West Honiara MP’s group holds the balance of power,” the source said. 

“What many people don’t realise is that the moment Hon Tran moves out, the coalition is dead. Protecting his group’s interest becomes paramount in the scheme of things.” 
The Prime Ministers Office yesterday failed to respond to this paper’s request for comment over the issue
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