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Solomon Islands PM wants PNG citizenship

Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare, will be seeking a Papua New Guinean citizenship after he retires from politics, which is any time soon.

He announced his desire to settle in PNG upon retirement, while celebrating Papua New Guinea’s 42nd Independence Day anniversary in Honiara last Saturday.

Sogavare declared that he was a Papua New Guinean by birth and would be pursuing an official dual citizenship status in PNG.

He was the guest of honour at the Independence Day dinner event hosted by PNG High Commissioner, Fred Yakasa, during which he could not hold back and could not hide his connection with PNG.

Yakasa also confirmed Sogavare’s retirement plans Monday and commended him for making the announcement on September 16.

“I am a Papua New Guinean by birth,” Sogavare said at the dinner.

Sogavare is the youngest of five sons of a pioneer missionary, Loko Sogavare, from Choiseul, Solomon Islands, who worked as a Seventh-Day Adventist Church missionary in remote Northern Province in the 1950s.

Two of his elder brothers are buried in PNG, one in East New Britain and the other in Lae, where they married and had children.

Eldest brother, Moses, married a woman from Kerema and Koiari and had settled in PNG, living in Port Moresby. Two brothers, Samson, who married a Manus woman, is buried in Lae and John, who married a woman from Rabaul, is buried in East New Britain.

Only PM Sogavare and his other elder brother Jacob, both born in Northern Province, returned to the Solomon Islands.

Sogavare said he is looking forward to the Dual Citizenship Bill and would be applying for PNG citizenship when he retires from politics.

SBM Online ran the story last weekend after PM Sogavare’s announcement.

“I still have family there in PNG, and yes, I will be applying for dual citizenship once I bow out of politics,” he told the Post-Courier.

Speaking from Honiara, Sogavare said he was born in Popondetta in 1955, where his father was based working as a missionary. He added that his family still lives in PNG.

At the Independence Day anniversary dinner, Sogavare described PNG as a big brother who plays an important role in Melanesia and the Pacific.

He said the Solomon Islands wants more Papua New Guinea businesses on top of the 50 already operating there.

Yakasa, on the other hand, urged more Solomon Islands businesses to invest in PNG which, he added, had a bigger market.

From the Immigration acting chief migration officer Solomon Kantha, PNG would welcome his application if Sogavare decides to apply for dual citizenship.

“The requirements for dual citizenship apply, including residency requirement, but we will wait for his application,”Kantha said.

Manasseh Damukana Sogavare (born January 17, 1955) is Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands.

His most recent term began on December 9, 2014, and he had served two terms – in 2000-2001 and in 2006-2007. Before becoming Prime Minister, Sogavare served in the National Parliament as Member for East Choiseul beginning in 1997.

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