By NETANI RIKA
THE Solomon Islands’ diplomatic row with Fiji has taken another twist with the former Fijian Foreign Affairs Minister dragging war veterans into the fray.
Ratu Inoke Kubuabola – now Defence Minister – took to Twitter to tell leaders in Honiara that Fijian troops died for the freedom of the Solomon Islands in World War II.
His tweet was in reaction to suggestions by Matthew Wale, Member of Parliament for Aoke-Langalanga, that Fiji had treated Melanesian Spearhead Group countries poorly.
Wale said Fiji’s heart was not in Melanesian brotherhood and it was only interested in financial benefits.
In response, Kubuabola tweeted: “Don’t question Fiji’s heart Sol leaders, Fijians died for your freedom.”
Kubuabola – a nationalist who was at the heart of the 1987 coup led by Sitiveni Rabuka but has survived three different governments – is from the same province as Corporal Sefanaia Sukanaivalu who posthumously won the highest British award for valour in the Solomons.
This is the latest development in the row between Suva and Honiara.
Last week Solomon Islands Deputy Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare accused Fiji – and to a lesser extent – of bullying MSG countries into granting Indonesia full membership of the group.
Sogavare said Fiji’s Rear-Admiral Frank Bainimarama bent the rules in order to grant entry to Indonesia. He said Bainimarama conveniently relied on the same rules to block membership by pro-independence group, the United Liberation Movement for West Papua.
Fiji and Papua New Guinea are Indonesia’s strongest Pacific allies. They have urged the international community to regard human rights abuses in the annexed West Papua region as an internal matter.
A second dispute is looming over the appointment of MSG Director-General, Fijian diplomat Amenatave Yauvoli, to replace Peter Forau of the Solomons.
But Forau has hit back at Sogavare, saying the former Prime Minister should have heeded the technical advice of secretariat officials to deal with issues more effectively.