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SOLOMON IS: Temotu declares state government

SOLOMON IS: Temotu declares state government

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By Duran Angiki

GIZO, Solomon Islands: More political trouble has erupted in the Solomon Islands as the eastern outer islands of the country, Temotu Province, declared itself a state government yesterday.

The latest move by Temotu comes within a month of Western Province's declaration as a state government on July 7.

This new political development in the Solomons had added a new dimension to the current ethnic conflict that is ripping apart the nation and a ceasefire, which virtually failed to stop militants' fighting.

A Solomon Islands government spokesman yesterday confirmed that the Prime Minister’s Office was trying to save the ceasefire between the Malaita Eagle Force (MEF) and Isatabu Freedom Movement.

But he said a shoot-out yesterday at Kakabona village, 12 kilometers west of Honiara, at about 10am in which a MEF member was shot dead by rival militia, IFM, had ended any hope of reviving the agreement.

A spokesman for the Solomon Islands police said the situation in Honiara had now gone back to what it was before the signing of the cease-fire three-days ago.

More looting and confiscating of innocent people’s vehicles and private properties by MEF member in around town had been reported but nothing could be done about it.

The spokesman said the MEF continuing violence of the terms and conditions of the cease-fire had force more people to flee Honiara back to their provinces.

He confirmed that the ceasefire had been faulty from day one because of the non-compliance of the MEF to uphold law and order in Honiara.

Now the IFM had crashed any hope of making it work.

While the cease-fire failed to curtail criminal activities in Honiara by MEF militiamen, the government had also had to deal with the political divisions now threatening to break up the country.

Reports from the headquarters of the former Solomon Islands most eastern

province of Temotu, Lata, said the decision by the province to become a ‘State Government’ had strongly influenced by a number of factors.

Prominent amongst them was people displease over the ethnic conflicts on

Guadalcanal, which had badly disrupted all services to the former province.

Additionally, the victimization and displacement of about 10,000 Temotu people from Honiara caused by ethnic Malaitans criminal activities.

And thirdly, the province displeasure over its annual contribution of US$250,000 to the national government, which only US$5,000 has been given as a grant back to the province.

The reports said the full assembly of the new state had decided that Temotu would as of yesterday a Free Association State of the Solomon Islands.

According to the reports, the new state had warned that if the government fails to recognize its new political status within a year then it would declare as an independent nation.

The reports said the more than 25,000 population of the new state, which

shares a maritime border with Vanuatu, had strongly supported the decision.

But the government problem was not only restricted to the new developments in Temotu Province and the failing apart of the cease-fire between the warring parties on Guadalcanal to hold.

Over the weekend, the new ‘State’ of Western Solomons told a delegation from the Honiara-based central government to leave the state following a row over grant money.

A Western Solomons spokesman said the state had allowed the delegation to proceed with its tour since yesterday after it finally paid the SI$3-million.

He said the money had been owed to the former Western Province by the central government since last year.

Following the payment of the money, the government delegation proceeded with the tour, aiming at easing tension in the province against Malaitans.

Since the declaration of Western Province as a state, the government had

been unsuccessfully trying to send a delegation to negotiate with the former province.

+++niuswire

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