SOLOMON ISLANDS POLICE CHIEF CRITICIZES COMMONWEALTH ENVOY

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (June 24, 1999 - PACNEWS)---Solomon Islands Police Commissioner Frank Short has criticized Sitiveni Rabuka, the Commonwealth Secretary General’s special envoy to the Solomons from Fiji, calling on him to be neutral.

Short has accused Rabuka of making premature statements about Guadalcanal militants without understanding the situation.

Commissioner Short’s attack on Rabuka follows comments by the former Prime Minister of Fiji that a legalistic approach would not solve the current problems of ethnic division.

After meeting 215 militants in the bush yesterday, Rabuka rejected the Police Chief’s assessment that the Guadalcanal militants were unorganized criminals.

In a statement, Short said he wanted the special envoy to be neutral and not give the impression that the issues are one-sided.

He said he was alarmed by Rabuka’s assessment that, while the activities of the militants are illegal, their fight was for their life and culture.

Meanwhile, Commonwealth Secretary General Chief Emeka Anyouku has told a meeting of 54 member countries that he chose the former Fiji Prime Minister as his representative to the Solomon Islands because "he is the best man for the job."

Chief Anyouku was addressing High Commissioners in London to prepare them for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting to be held later this year.

The Secretary General said he spoke with Fiji’s Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry about Rabuka’s appointment on Monday.

In another development, a leading militant on Guadalcanal has said his members will not stop their campaign until all the people of Malaita have left the capital, Honiara.

The group, calling itself the Zero-Zero section of the Isatambu Freedom Fighters, has been putting up roadblocks east of the capital.

Speaking in Pidgin, their leader Bakadi claimed the people of Malaita had never respected the Guadalcanal culture and he said the Isatambu Freedom Fighters wanted all Malaitans expelled and freedom for Guadalcanal.

Bakadi said his men would not lay down their arms because they did not trust the Solomon Islands police.

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