SOLOMONS PM CONSIDERING FUTURE AFTER REBELS MOVE IN, SAYS REPORT

SUVA, Fiji Islands (June 5, 2000 - PINA Nius Online)---The Solomons Islands Broadcasting Corporation released a statement saying the country's Prime Minister, Bartholomew Ulufa'alu, is considering his future, Radio Australia reported this afternoon.

It came after reports members of the militant Malaita Eagle Force and possibly some police and prison officers have seized key installations in the Solomon Islands capital, Honiara.

Radio Australia said the statement quoted a lawyer representing the Malaita Eagle Force, Andrew Nori, as saying Mr. Ulufa'alu has responded positively to demands of the Malaita Eagle Force and some police para-military force members.

Radio Australia earlier carried a report the rebels had seized the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation station in Honiara.

Efforts to ring Honiara from Suva this afternoon were unsuccessful.

Mr. Nori said the main demand is that Mr. Ulufa'alu resign voluntarily, Radio Australia reported. Mr. Nori said the demand is the result of the government's failure to positively address the current ethnic crisis.

Mr. Nori predicted the situation in Honiara would return to normal within the next few days.

He said a one-hour joint operation was carried out by platoons of the Malaita Eagle Force and some members of the Police Field Force, Radio Australia reported.

Earlier radio reports monitored here said the Malaita Eagle Force and possibly some police and prison officers seized the police armory and the country's telecommunications facilities.

They are calling for the removal of the prime minister and police commissioner, the radio reports said.

Sean Dorney, of Radio Australia, reported this morning:

"The Malaita Eagle Force was established last year by young men from the heavily populated island of Malaita to do battle with the Isatabu Freedom Fighters - a militia group from Guadalcanal who had begun attacking and terrorizing Malaitan settlers on Guadalcanal.

"According to people in the Solomons who've contacted Radio Australia the Eagle Force had given the Parliament a deadline of today to pay a massive compensation claim for the property of Malaitan people destroyed by their Guadalcanal opponents, the Isatabu Freedom Fighters. Reports from Honiara say heavily armed Eagle Force members have been roaming the streets all weekend."

The Guadalcanal militants say Malaitans dominate government jobs and business and were now taking over the land of the Guadalcanal people.

Australia's Foreign Affairs Department said it had confirmation that armed rebels have taken over key installations in Honiara.

The Department said members of the Malaita Eagle Force rebel group took control of some police stations and the telecommunications early this morning, Radio Australia reported.

They have also taken control of major intersections in Honiara.

There has been ongoing unrest on Guadalcanal, where Honiara is situated, involving the Malaita Eagle Force and the Isatabu Freedom Movement from Guadalcanal. Radio Australia said an estimated 50 people have been killed and thousands forced to flee their homes in the past 18 months.

Earlier, Radio Australia said there were reports of increasing militant action around Honiara.

The reports included militants setting up roadblocks and seizing installations in and near Honiara.

A message sent to Radio Australia's website claimed that members of the Malaita Eagle Force have taken over the country's police headquarters, telecommunications and the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation.

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