SOLOMON ISLANDS COUP POSES THREATS

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VIEWPOINT Post-Courier Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

June 6, 2000

The rebels who placed Prime Minister Bart Ulufa‘alu under house arrest in Honiara ought to give serious consideration to the consequences of their actions on the future of the Solomon Islands.

Any attempt to follow Fiji's example of a civilian coup by overthrowing a legitimately elected government could backfire severely on the Solomons.

The so-called Malaita Eagle Force should not underestimate the response from the international community.

The Solomons is a tiny island nation whose economy is dependent on support from its friends overseas.

Its future relations with donor nations and its metropolitan friends depend on its acceptance of the democratic processes and the upholding of the rule of law.

It seems from the reports coming out of Honiara that the rebel Malaita Eagle Force has abandoned the negotiations, which have been going on with the Commonwealth Secretariat to restore peace and normalcy to the country.

Instead, it prefers to usurp the powers of a democratically elected government and a prime minister who has a clear mandate from his people to govern his country.

If that were to be the case then the Solomons is heading down a dangerous path, which will result in nothing short of misery for the ordinary people.

The international community is no doubt watching developments as they develop in Honiara.

Members of that international community will take whatever action or actions are necessary to teach the rebels a lesson that they cannot undermine democracy with the barrel of the gun and expect to be forgiven for it.

Papua New Guinea and its bigger neighbors, Australia and New Zealand, should apply pressure on the rebels to release the Prime Minister and return to the negotiating table to discuss peaceful ways of ending this violence.

The region's reputation for sorting out its problems peacefully are at stake.

The Melanesian Way of peaceful, give and take negotiations, must prevail.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

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