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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (September 21, 2000 - Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation/PINA Nius Online)---No news was received yesterday by the government on the fate of a Solomon Airlines aircraft and its pilot being held by militants on the Weather Coast of Guadalcanal.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace Allen Kemakeza said no word has been received by the government since it sent a delegation to negotiate with Isatabu Freedom Movement area commander Harold Keke on Tuesday.

The delegation sent by the government is comprised of members of the Melanesian Brotherhood of the Church of Melanesia.

Director of the government communications unit Alfred Maesulia also confirmed that no word on the condition of the pilot and his Britten Norman Islander aircraft had come to his office today.

Mr. Maesulia early this week issued a directive that information on the current crisis coming from the government for the media must come through his office and be approved by the Prime Minister's Office.

Meanwhile, Western Province Premier Ruben Lilo again appealed to his Guadalcanal colleague Ezekiel Alebua and Mr. Keke to ensure the safety of the pilot, Eric Rove, of Western province.

Premier Lilo says many innocent Guadalcanal people are living in Western province, and their safety has been guaranteed.

(Background: A cease-fire in the Solomon Islands follows ethnic conflict which engulfed Guadalcanal, the island on which the capital, Honiara, is located.

Peace talks started aboard a New Zealand navy ship off Honiara, and are due to continue in Cairns, Australia, next month. The ethnic conflict began when Guadalcanal militants tried to drive out settlers from another island, Malaita, claiming they dominated government and business and were taking over Guadalcanal land.

Honiara has been under the control of a joint operation of the Malaita Eagle Force militia and elements of the paramilitary police field force. The Guadalcanal countryside is largely under the control of Guadalcanal's Isatabu Freedom Movement militia.)

In other developments:

* Police in the Western Province have arrested four people in connection with a shooting incident at Ringi, Kolombangara, last week.

Provincial Police Commander - Western, Aloysius Ora, told SIBC that four men will appear in the Gizo Magistrates Court this Friday to face several charges, including illegal possession of arms, going armed in public and harassment.

Mr. Ora added that another man also would appear in court on Friday in connection with a recent shooting incident at Munda.

Mr. Ora said he's happy with the current law and order situation in Western Province compared to several weeks ago.

He said what the province needs now is a full time Magistrate at Gizo to hear cases.

* The government is expected to pay about $130,000 dollars for accommodating eight of its members, including several Cabinet Ministers, at the Honiara Hotel since the end of June.

The Honiara Hotel confirmed to SIBC that eight members of the current government, including six Cabinet Ministers, have been accommodated at the hotel on and off since June 30th.

Each of the rooms cost SI$ 205 per night.

While the Ministers continue to be accommodated at the Honiara Hotel, several ministerial houses continue to remain vacant, since Ministers of the former SIAC government left in early July.

This includes the official Prime Minister's residence in Lengakiki, since Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare had decided to remain in the house he occupied as Leader of Opposition in East Kola Ridge.

An official within the public service told SIBC that arrangements are now under way to repair the ministerial houses so that the Ministers being accommodated at the Honiara Hotel could move in.

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

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