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US AMBASSADOR MEETS SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT

MONDAY 18TH APRIL 2016

US meets Speaker
US Ambassador, Catherine Ebert-Gray (center), Speaker of Solomon Islands Parliament(right) and US Consular in Honiara, Keithie Saunders (left) during the courtesy call.

US Ambassador, Catherine Ebert-Gray who was recently confirmed as next Ambassador to the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Republic of Vanuatu has made a courtesy call on the Speaker of the National Parliament of Solomon Islands on Friday 15th of April 2016

This was part of her visit to present her credentials to the Government of Solomon Islands.

The Ambassador was accompanied by Protocol Assistant, Miss Michelle Gerari of the Embassy of the United States of America in Port Moresby.

During the visit, she first met the Prime Minister, Hon. Manasseh Sogavare and Foreign Affairs Minister, Hon. Milner Tozaka.

Speaker of the National Parliament of Solomon Islands, Mr Ajilon. Jasper Nasiu when welcoming the Ambassador said, “We are forever grateful for the gift of this Parliament House from the US Government to the people of Solomon Islands, and only wish that the US Government could continue to do some more assistance on the same line.”

He said Solomon Island is a small Island state that is also going through so many difficulties like other small Island states.

However, Solomon Islands Parliament like any other Parliament is trying to fulfill its vision of achieving a Modern Parliament that fulfills its constitutional duties and effectively serves the people of Solomon Islands.

One of the areas the Speaker highlighted in its restructuring is Administrative autonomy. Another is the possibility of a new Electoral system to be used in the next General Elections, similar to the one Fiji is using.

He also highlighted the Civic Education and outreach programs which includes the gender programs run by the Young Women Parliamentary Group (YWPG).

The US Ambassador said she was impressed to see that Solomon Islands is seriously focusing on woman and violence which now sees the enforcement of the Family Protection Law.

She, however, said the USA has shifted its focus to human capacity building, especially in the areas of health, women, economic growth and climate change and adaptation.

But she has concern on the current issues that surrounds logging in the country and the current issue with Honiara’s Sea Port.

She said issues affecting Sea Ports are of great concern to any country because we all depend on a Port for living.

She continued to comment on the political groupings in Parliament and had expressed her interest in seeing a strong opposition and independent groups.

However, she said it’s a shame YWPG is doing great in terms of empowering young women for leadership positions but is not reflected in the representation in Parliament.

“Leadership and contributions of YWPG are admired but where they are in Parliament?” she asked.

The US Ambassador also asked about the proposed reserve seats for women in Parliament and has quoted Hillary Clinton on her saying that, “Women are the largest reservoir of talents,” therefore they must be considered when electing leaders into Parliament.

The Ambassador was greeted by the Speaker with a gift of shell money necklace.

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