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Solomon Star On The Attempted Coup

See updates and pictures: http://www.journalism.uts.edu.au/ and: http://www.lookinglassdesign.com/wansolwara/wansol.html

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HONIARA - Solomon Islands' Prime Minister Barthalomew Ulufa'alu is under house arrest after armed men invaded his home this morning forcing security officers to flee.

The armed men were members of the Malaita Eagles Force and the Para-Millitary police (Rapid Respond Unit and Field Force).

They took control of the town and all business were shutdown temprorary today.

The mediator of the operation Andrew Nori told a press confrence today that it was not a coup or what so ever but they simply want the PM to resign.

Nori told the confrerence that they would scale down operation by today and if the PM resigns everything should be back to normal.

Nori had denied reports that he would take-over as the leader.

"No, I am not," he said.

Nori said what they wanted was a change of leadership so that the 18 month old enthnic crisis will be adressed swiftly and solved.

At exactly o400 hours (SI) time elements of the local police with the assistance of two platoons of the Eagles Force, stormed and took total control of the country’s main police amouries located at Rove in Honiara.

Shortly afterwards they took control of weapons located at the Central Police Station in Honiara. One of their units was deployed to Ulufa'alu's residence where it over-powered the security staff and possessed their weapons. By 0500 a.m the operation was completed.

The weapons storage at Rove consists of two armouries, together containing more than 98 percent of Solomon Islands offensive weapons and armmunitions, many of which were amongst the most modern in the arms industries.

The armed men also controlled the naval base, telecommunication and other essential servinces in Honiara.

Nori confirmed that PM Ulufa’alu was safe. He said Ulufa’alu was not under any form of arrest but he was placed under protective care to prevent any criminal threats on him, property or family.

Nori said all mininsters of State left untouched. Nori, a private lawyer hailded from Malaita said acting on instructions of the joint operation leaders a letter was handed to the Prim Minister this morning asking him to resign within 48 hours.

"If he does not, Parliament should be asked by the relevant authority to convene to allow for the election of a new PM and the formation of a new government," Nori said.

Nori confirmed that the PM had responded positively to their letter.

Ulufa'alu was expected to meet with his cabinet later this afternoon.

The Eagles Force took up arms earlier this year to reterliate against members of from neibouring Guadalcanal millitants who chased Malaitans and destroyed their properties last year.

Meanwhile, a caucus meeting to discuss the future of Ulufa'alu was still uderway.

Ulufa'alu was heavyly guided by arm men when he was led to the meeting in his office. A reporter at the scene described Ulufa'alu as being very "tired".

The incident had taken Solomons by storm and people are still reeling it.

MEF had announced that a curfew will be put in place from 10 pm - 5 am every night until the incident calms down.

+++niuswire

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