Newspaper: Solomon Islands envoy suspended

National, Normal

The National, Wednesday, May 25, 2011

THE Solomon Islands high commissioner to Papua New Guinea, Bernard Bata’anisia, has been suspended for misconduct in office and recalled to Honiara, the Solomon Star reported yesterday.
This was confirmed by sources within the high commission in Port Moresby and within foreign affairs  in Honiara, it reported.
“Our source within the foreign affairs office said Bata’anisia was recalled and suspended because the government found evidences of misconduct while carrying out an audit last year,” the newspaper said.
When the Solomon Star contacted the high commission in Port Moresby a woman staffer there said Bata’anisia was no longer occupying the post.
The newspaper said it understood Bata’anisia returned to the country on Sunday.
However, the source within the foreign affairs said he might be linked to “other underlying issues”.
Bata’anisia was understood to have stopped performing his official duties two weeks ago.
The high commission office in Port Moresby confirmed that deputy high commissioner William Soaki is currently the acting high commissioner.
The Solomon Star’s attempts to talk to Bata’anisia on Monday in Honiara were unsuccessful.
He was a notable absence last Wednesday when acting Foreign Affairs and Trade secretary Lucy Bogari presented a PNG government cheque for K1.5 million to the Solomon Islands government. The money was the final drawdown of the K23 million grant assistance under a 2006 agreement for the construction of the current chancery at Gordon, next to the British high commission, and to provide funding support to Solomons students at tertiary institutions nationwide. The chancery was completed in May last year.
Journalists who inquired about Bata’anisia’s absence were told he was out of the country but no reasons were given.