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SOLOMON IS: Peace talks uncertain

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By Duran Angiki

HONIARA (Wantok Press): The Malaita Eagle Force continues to dictate efforts to revive the Solomon Islands peace talks forcing the meeting to postpone for the second time for Thursday (this week).

This followed MEF leader Andrew Nori’s unconditional demand for the Isatabu Freedom Movement (IFM) to bring Harold Keke, Joe Sagu and George Gray to the meeting. The three Guadalcanal men were founder of the Guadalcanal Revolutionary Army now IFM.

Following the demand, the IFM through Australia’s logistical supports attempted but failed to bring the IFM commanders to the meeting yesterday due to bad whether.

Nori, at the resumption of the meeting yesterday (Monday), insisted the meeting to postpone and demand the IFM to bring the three commanders as a prerequisite for further talk.

The brief meeting yesterday decided to postpone the peace talks but only after the IFM leader warned of future trouble.

A spokesman, who attended the meeting yesterday, said the IFM had told the meeting that the Guadalcanal militants’ group was fully committed to reach cease-fire.

The IFM leader warned that the failure of the meeting to reach an immediate agreement would result in his militiamen taking an all out war to evict every people out of Guadalcanal Island, including Honiara.

He said the peace-talk sessions had for a number of times disrupted because MEF commanders had consistently used bad languages and finger actions to abuse IFM members.

At one stage, one MEF commander stood aside and openly challenged members of the Guadalcanal Provincial delegation and IFM commanders.

He said the delegations that represented the government; non-government and the Solomon Islands Christian Association to the peace talks were predominantly Malaitans.

As politicians attempt to bring the peace-talks back on track, the MEF ignored all good rational thinking by continuing its daily unlawful activities of roadblocks, military intrusions and looting in Honiara.

The MEF, although promised to scale down illegal operations within the Honiara area, still maintain its seven-week-old curfew.

The MEF daily roadblocks, which often erected at 7pm to 6am, had continued to shatter hopes of people walking around town freely and the resumption of immediate normalcy.

The unpredictable situation continued to force people of all walks of life to flee Honiara in hundreds on daily basis back to their home islands.

The law and order problem had affected the resumption of the government public service and its statutory bodies and institutions.

Despite repeated calls by the government for public servants, who fled Honiara since June 5 to return for duties, officers defy the government instruction.

The reluctance of public servants to return to Honiara had paralysed the

government entire effort to restore normalcy to its services.

Over the weekend, several shop owners fell victims to the continuing robbery by criminals allegedly allied with the MEF.

A case that further justified the indefinite closing and minimal trading

hours of businesses in Honiara from 7am to 2pm introduced MEF coup on June 5.

While the remaining population who braved the lawlessness and uncertainty in Honiara wish for immediate peace, they faced another major problem.

Water supply to the broader city, especially high-class residential areas of West Honiara, ceased indefinitely, last Thursday.

This followed the blowing-up of the main water reservoir at Kongulae village, in the outback of west Honiara.

IFM admitted on Friday that it had blown up the reservoir as retaliation

over the MEF continued intrusion and killing of its members.

Since the shut down of the water supply to the west Honiara, it created an almost catastrophe.

People of all walk’s of life, including MEF members and foreigners no longer worry about the dangers of the conflicts, busy looking for water sources to fetch water.

An engineer with the Solomon Islands Water Authority, Ms Antonet Wickham, said the damage to the three water pumps at the reservoir were very extensive.

She said in the short term, the authority has been working on a number of options to try and restore water supply back to the affected areas in Honiara.

But Ms Wickham ruled out any immediate restoration of the water system, saying that it could take until December to access and finally carry out

repair work on the damaged property.

While SIWA continues to assess the damage, the chance of an immediate solution to the water crisis in Honiara is far from over.


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