RABUKA WARNS ABOUT NEW SOLOMON ISLANDS GOVERNMENT SYSTEM

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (July 7, 1999 - Radio Australia)---The Commonwealth special envoy to the Solomon Islands, former Fiji Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, says a proposed new state government structure in the Solomons could either destroy or strengthen the nation.

Mr. Rabuka said the militant demand for state government on Guadalcanal might help national cohesion or, if it isn't handled properly, cause total disintegration.

Speaking at the Australian National University in Canberra during the weekend, Mr. Rabuka said the long-term integrity of the Solomons should not be sacrificed in the current search for peace.

"They have to really weigh that up properly -- whether this state government system will bring about greater national cohesion or disintegration.

"At the moment I worry about the way they're going to go and I only hope that if they say no to the state government concept that they're able to convince the people that the (current system) is better.

Mr. Rabuka last week brokered a peace accord between the Solomon Islands Government, the Premiers of Guadalcanal and Malaita provinces and the militant group, ending months of ethnic unrest over land ownership and political and economic power.

Fiji's former Prime Minister said he is returning to Honiara from Australia to continue work on the peace agreement.

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