SOLOMONS MPS WILL MEET FRIDAY ABOARD THE HMAS TOBRUK June 28, 2000

SOLOMONS MPS NOW WILL MEET FRIDAY ABOARD THE HMAS TOBRUK TO ELECT PRIME MINISTER

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (June 29, 2000 - Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation/PINA Nius Online)---Members of the Solomon Islands Parliament will meet Friday onboard the Australian Navy ship HMAS Tobruk to elect a new prime minister.

This follows the deferment of the meeting earlier planned for yesterday at the National Parliament House in Honiara.

In a notice issued to all members of Parliament early last night, the Governor General, Sir John Ini Lapli, said in exercise of powers given to him under the constitution, 'I do hereby appoint 10:00 a.m. the 30th day of June 2000 on the Australian Naval ship HMAS Tobruk anchored offshore in Honiara as the time, date and place at which members of Parliament will meet for the purpose of electing a prime minister."

He directed the Speaker of Parliament to make all necessary arrangements for the meeting.

Earlier, caretaker Prime Minister Bartholomew Ulufa'alu said members of the SIAC group decided to boycott yesterday's election of the prime minister because of the continuing threats on their lives from the Malaita Eagle Force members.

Mr. Ulufa'alu claimed that even an hour before the meeting, a minister of his government was threatened as he was arriving at Henderson International Airport to attend the meeting.

"One of the ministers arrived and he was threatened at gun point to convince him to join the opposition group," he said.

Mr. Ulufa'alu said because of this last minute threat and for the safety of the MPs they decided not to attend the meeting because there was no safety guarantee from the militant groups.

He added that the goodwill by the militants was not there.

*NORI WARNING

The paramilitary-Malaita Eagle Force spokesman Andrew Nori warned that the non-existence of a government will hinder planned peace talks and contribute to an escalation of the crisis.

Speaking after yesterday's failed meeting, Mr. Nori said that unless a government is in place there will be no peace talks and planned cease-fire talks are at risk.

He said the joint operation had observed its pledge for a free and democratic meeting but MPs have failed to play their part.

Mr. Nori said the MPs who didn't attend yesterday's meeting are those that mishandled the situation resulting in the crisis.

He warned there should be no more politicking because this can lead to an escalation of the crisis.

Mr. Nori said its now up to the Governor General and the members of Parliament, adding that any more delay in the electing of a prime minister will have a negative impact on current efforts to implement a permanent on cease fire and begin peace talks.

* SOLOMON ISLANDS MEDICAL STUDENTS RETURNING TO FIJI

Solomon Islands government-sponsored students studying at the Fiji School of Medicine are to return to Fiji thanks to Australian help.

Ministry of Education Undersecretary Moffat Behulu told SIBC News that Australia will meet the cost of 23 Solomon Islands government-sponsored students at the FSM for the second semester this year.

Mr. Behulu said the students are expected to leave Honiara for Suva this Sunday via Port Moresby, Cairns and Sydney.

The students were recalled some weeks ago following the rebel takeover of the Fiji Parliament.

* MARAU PROVINCIAL OFFICES BUILT

The provincial sub-station at Marau, in the east of Guadalcanal, has been burned to the ground.

The Member of Parliament for the area, Johnson Koli, revealed this after recent heavy fighting between members of the Isatabu Freedom Movement and the Malaita Eagle Force in the area.

Houses in villages near the station were also burned down as a result of the fighting.

Reports from Marau say the only building left untouched during the fighting is the provincial clinic there.

* WEST PREMIER DENIES CLAIM

The Premier of Western province, Reuben Lilo, has denied claims that Malaitans are leaving the province because of threats.

Mr. Lilo said the statement by a church leader who has just left Gizo is exaggerating the matter out of proportion.

Mr. Lilo said the Western provincial government and its people had at no time chased Malaitans out of the province, adding that those who left did so at their own will.

For additional reports from the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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