PEACE ACCORD SIGNED IN SOLOMON ISLANDS

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (June 29, 1999 - Radio Australia)---The warring sides in the Solomon Islands have signed a peace accord brokered by Commonwealth mediator Sitiveni Rabuka, in a bid to end six months of ethnic tension.

Mr. Rabuka has cancelled his scheduled departure on Tuesday (Honiara time) to travel into the jungles east of Honiara, to sell the deal to militant fighters and persuade them to lay down their arms.

The Isiantabu Freedom Fighters group has been leading a campaign to drive settlers from Malaita island off the main island of Guadalcanal, where the capital Honiara is located.

The four-page peace accord was finalized over three days of meetings with representatives of the Guadalcanal and Malaita provincial governments.

It fails to offer an amnesty to the militants, after Malaita representatives refused to accept provisions of a blanket pardon.

Instead, the accord calls for the immediate disbanding of all pro-Guadalcanal armed groups and for the law to run its course against militants who have been arrested.

As the accord was being signed, the Solomons government announced media restrictions which could see editors jailed for up to two years for offences under the continuing state of emergency.

The Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation said it would immediately halt live broadcasts of Radio Australia and the British Broadcasting Corporation in case they carry news about the Solomons which infringes the new regulations.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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