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New Moves For Western Independence

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By Duran Angiki USP Journalism Graduate

GIZO, Solomon Islands: A mood is developing in the Western Solomons for the new state to declare political independence from the rest of Solomon Islands.

This follows common resentment over the Malaita Eagle Force (MEF) daily harassing and looting of property belonging to the people of Western Solomons in the country’s capital, Honiara.

"We are fed up with a government that controls by criminals who have no concern for the welfare and political future of this country," said an adviser to the Western Solomons government.

"The daily harassing of our people and looting of their property in Honiara is unacceptable and makes us more determined to breakaway," he added.

Over the past weeks, the more than 10,000 ethnic population of Westerners and neighboring Choiseul islanders in Honiara, has been targeted in a new wave of MEF criminal activities.

This follows recent alleged harassing of ethnic Malaitans in the Western Solomons, which shares a common maritime border with Papua New Guinea.

As a result, it forces a huge influx of ethnic Westerners and Choiseulese in Honiara back to the two new states of the Solomons.

The adviser to the Western Solomons said that initially the general perception of the Western Solomons was for "state government" with the view of political independence.

But he added the new mood had sparked by the increasing law and order problems in Honiara, which had worsen by the government acceptance of MEF criminals’ activities.

Over the weekend, armed MEF criminals went to the United Church at down town Honiara, which predominantly attended by Westerners and harassed them.

Victims and eyewitnesses said MEF criminals held a number of worshippers who owned vans and cars at gunpoint after the church and seized their vehicles.

The adviser said this racially motivated incident amongst others had indicated the collapse of the law and order in Honiara.

He said the rule of law in Honiara has fast becoming a myth in the face of the government and innocent people.

Deputy Magistrate in the Honiara Central Courts revealed yesterday that the judiciary in Honiara had faced a difficult task in getting criminals to face charges.

He said recently a group of MEF members went and set free several Malaitans who were sentenced by the courts for imprisonment.

The recent incident followed the prior illegal releasing of more than 90

prisoners of predominantly Malaitans by the MEF at Rove prison after the

coup on June 5.

The hard-core prisoners, including six murderers of ethnic Malaitans, have been joined ranks with criminal members of the MEF and are still at large.

Western Solomons no longer entertain the government pretension about the MEF criminal activities in Honiara, which now brings the country into the verge of chaos.

Yesterday a delegation led by the Assisting Prime Minister, Nathaniel Waena, left Western Solomons after consulting people about the state government system.

During the two weeks, people told the government to address the MEF criminal activities in Honiara before any serious discussion could be held about the political status of the former province.

Western Solomons Premier Ruben Lilo said the political status of the Western Solomons, as a new state government, was a non-negotiable issue.

"Whatever people wish to say or call us, the Western Solomons is a state government," he added.

Deputy Premier, Steven Beno, reaffirmed the people desire by saying "our wish for state government has been aided by the criminal activities in Honiara."

"We do not want to be part of this political crisis and one way that our people (Western Solomons) will avoid it in the future is to become a state government."

He said the political crisis in Honiara had adversely affected the central government services to the Western Solomons.

Since the MEF coup on June 5, people of Western Solomons and Choisuel had been pushing for more political and economic autonomy from the Solomons central government.

This push had brought the ethnically related people of the two former Solomon Islands provinces with a total population of more than 80,000 more closer in their efforts for economic development.

Both states have contributed a total of about 60 percent of the country’s annual revenue with a total of SID$12-million monthly.

Ends

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