Solomons Deputy PM to run for top job | Pacific Beat

Solomons Deputy PM to run for top job

Solomons Deputy PM to run for top job

Updated 15 February 2012, 13:31 AEDT

Solomon Islands' Deputy Prime Minister, Fred Fono says he will be a contender for the Prime Ministership after national elections due in a few months.

Mr Fono says he's also launching a new political party under which he will contest the upcoming elections. The four-year term of the current parliament will end when it dissolves on April 24th but no dates have yet been set for fresh elections.

Presenter: Jemima Garrett

Speaker: Fred Fono, Deputy Prime Minister, Solomon Islands'

GARRETT: The current government - the Coalition for National Unity and Rural Advancement has agreed to go to the election on a common political platform - a move designed to help its constituent parties and individuals emerge from the turmoil of the election period intact.

But co-alition members still have room to move.

New political parties are springing up like mushrooms in Solomon Islands and Deputy Prime Minister, Fred Fono, is the latest to announce his intentions.

FONO: My political party, which I will launch after parliament dissolves, it's name is Solomon Islands People's Congress Party. The focus of that party is to make reforms in the constituency development funding.

GARRETT: Most of the money for the Constituency Development Funds comes from Taiwan.

It is paid direct to the local members of parliament and is meant to be spent on development.

Mr Fono is a strong supporter of the system because, he says, it means even the most remote parts of the country have money specifically earmarked for them.

But, he also acknowledges there are problems and has pledged a clean-up in the way the funds are spent.

FONO: The current system, one of the biggest weaknesses or the hurdles that we face is when these funds are paid through constituencies and members of parliament controls that, you tend to see a lot of people queuing at members of parliament residencies, offices, in order to give out free handout. That is the problem, so we don't see tangible projects in our respective constituencies, because the demand that we are having is people asking for consumable items, people asking for things that doesn't in a true sense developmental. So there must be political will to put a stop to this current system.

GARRETT: Mr Fono says his party will campaign for legislation that would see the rural constituency development funds funds taken out of the hands of MP's and given to local constituency congresses to implement.

Beyond that, he has his eye on Solomon Islands top job.

FONO: I think I have enough experience being a third termer in parliament once there is confidence from the members of parliament to choose me for prime minister, certainly I will be putting my hands up to take the leadership. I am a firm believer that if it is God's will, then certainly things will fall into place as I am a committed Christian and I pray regularly, I attend church, I pray towards revelation of God's will for leadership for this nation.

GARRETT: So what differences would we see in a government led by Prime Minister Fred Fono?

FONO: Well basically, I will promote Solomon Islands as a sustainable and innovative and prosperous nation, trying to encourage private sector, as an engine of growth for the country in order to create jobs for our unemployed people and create jobs for the younger generations which we are currently training, governments manpower plan is to train as much Solomon Islanders to come back and develop this nation and that is the goal that I will be looking towards if taking the leadership role.

GARRETT: In Solomon Islands elections, often half the politicians don't get re-elected. What are you doing or do you have any concerns that you might not get re-elected from your own constituency?

FONO: My own constituency I am 100 percent confident that I will be re-elected, because my political analyst also had some opinion polls and there seems to be no better candidate to win my seat, to beat me in this coming elections, so I am quite confident to win back my seat for a fourth term in parliament.

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