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Solomons leader Danny Philip joins Pacific flight

The Australian - November 12, 2011

Rowan Callick A second Pacific leader prime minister Danny Philip of Solomon Islands quit yesterday, after Nauru's President Marcus Stephen resigned on Thursday.

Mr Philip's resignation came on the eve of a vote of no confidence. This had been prompted by claims from the opposition, led by previous prime minister Derek Sikua, that Mr Philip had misused money from a $10 million discretionary fund provided by the government of Taiwan, which Honiara recognises instead of China.

Mr Philip, who had been prime minister since a national election 15 months ago, lost his majority this week as three MPs quit the government, compounded by his sacking of two cabinet members, public service minister Rick Hou and finance minister Gordon Lilo.

This left his government with the support of just 22 of the 49 MPs. The MPs will elect a new government on Wednesday.

Whoever wins is almost certain to keep in place the Australia-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, which includes Australian soldiers, police and public-service trainers, and which retains widespread public support.

The sacked ministers are among the likely candidates for prime minister next week.

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