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Solomons Ceasefire Under Threat

USP Pacific Journalism Online: http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/ USP Journalism on the Fiji crisis (UTS host): http://www.journalism.uts.edu.au/
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By Duran Angiki

GIZO, Solomon Islands: Malaita Eagle Force (MEF) members yesterday failed to honour a clause of the ceasefire agreement between the warring parties on Guadalcanal refusing to hand-over the armoury in Honiara back to the Solomon Islands police.

The proposed handing over of the armoury was part of the ceasefire also signed by the Isatabu Freedom Movement (IFM), aiming at giving back the role of restoring law and order in Honiara back into the hands of police.

But sources close to the government and Honiara police confirmed that the immediate implementation of that clause of the agreement had caused major tension between members of the militia and police.

As a result, it defeated the government intention of bringing confidence into the process of restoring normalcy and peace back to the country.

A government spokesman yesterday said the government was closely monitoring the impasse and hoping that an understanding would be reached.

While the MEF action undermined its commitment to the agreement, other criminal activities caused by ethnic Malaitans had also threatened to flare up.

Over the weekend, armed ethnic Malaitans severely beat two men from the Western Solomons in Honiara.

A relative of the victims yesterday confirmed that the armed Malaitans had beaten up the men purely on the ground that they were from the Western Solomons.

This new development had caused a general panic in the Western Solomons community in Honiara.

She said certain Malaitans who had allegedly fled the Western Solomons, claiming to be under threat while there, were now leading and carrying out the criminal activities.

The relative said criminal ethnic Malaitans were only finding ways of hassling people as an easy way of getting money from innocent people.

She said a lot of people from Western Solomons had already fell victims in the hands of these criminals.

A similar group of ethnic Malaitans also held up the Western Solomons ferry at Honiara wharf over the weekend, the MV Tomoko, and threatened to damage it.

The group demanded SID$1,000, which the captain finally paid.

General Manager of Transwest Shipping Ltd, Nelso Koroi said the same group of ethnic Malaitans yesterday (Monday) again went and demanded an additional SID$5,000.

He said the group went to the managing director of the company in Honiara and threatens him and as a result the management decided to pay the demand.

Due to action against the lives of company’s crew, managing director and the boat, the management decided to cancel the weekly trip of the boat to Honiara indefinitely starting this week.

Western Solomons Deputy Premier, Steven Bero, yesterday (Monday) strongly condemned the criminals action and appeal to the government to do something about it.

Western Solomon could only deal with Malaitans claim for compensation if it done within the spirit and framework of the Munda Accord.

In 1999 premiers of Malaita and Western Solomons signed an agreement aiming at addressing problems caused by the illegal settling of Malaitans in parts of Western Solomons.

Prior to the signing of the agreement, many Malaitan settlers in the Western Solomons fled, claiming that people from the province had threatened them.

According to Bero, the accord provides the mechanism by which compensation for any damage or loss of property in the Western Solomons could be dealt with.

He said the recent action by the criminals could only breed hatred between people of ethnic Malaitans and the Western Solomons.

+++niuswire

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