HONIARA, Solomon Islands (September 25, 2000 - Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation/PINA Nius Online)---The Solomon Islands government has not released any additional information about kidnapped Solomon Airlines pilot Eric Rove and his aircraft.

The Government Communications Unit told SIBC News that no information about the pilot and the Britten Norman Islander aircraft - held at an airstrip on Guadalcanal's Weather Coast - has reached the Unit.

A group from the Melanesian Brotherhood of the Church of Melanesia, which the government had sent to negotiate with a local Isatabu Freedom Movement commander, Harold Keke, was expected to return to Honiara over the weekend.

Last Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Allan Kemakeza said at a media conference that the government had proposed that Mr. Keke extend his deadline for the payment for the release of the pilot. It expired last Tuesday and Mr. Kemakeza asked for it to be extended to 2:00 p.m. Tuesday of this week.

(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 Solomon Islands news:

* Solomon Islands College of Higher Education (SICHE) volunteer students who will take part in a Peace and Development project will attend a one-week workshop on the plan.

Forty-four SICHE students from various provinces have been identified to take part in a volunteer program to assist communities in the peace process.

The students are taking part in the project following moves taken by the United Nations Development Programme - Solomon Islands Development Administration Participatory Planning Program, UNDP-SIDAPP, to involve SICHE students and staff.

SICHE is considering making community activities a part of the students course of study.

* Member unions of the Solomon Islands Council of Trade Unions (SICTU) were expected to submit position papers about the result of the unrest on their work and lives.

President of SICTU, David Tuhanuku, had earlier told SIBC News that he was appealing to various union members to submit position papers to enable him to compile a report to be presented at an international union conference.

He said SICTU will consider implementing a project to help its members who have been affected by the unrest.

Mr. Tuhanuku said SICTU members will present their position papers at a

meeting planned for September 25th.

Mr. Tuhanuku said the position papers will help SICTU to formulate a program to help its members who have either been laid off or have lost their jobs.

He said SICTU hopes to seek support from various sources for the planned project.

* The second part of the 10th South Pacific Regional Prayer Assembly held in the Solomon Islands is now under way at Malu'u in North Malaita.

The second phase of the religious event will end Wednesday.

Hundreds of South Pacific regional participants and Solomon Islanders are taking part in the five-day event at Malu'u.

* The Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau is working to implement "The Tourism Crisis Recovery Campaign."

General Manager of the Visitors Bureau, Wilson Maelaua, said the campaign has two approaches.

One is to aggressively work with possible partners, including government ministries and departments, the private sector and other organizations.

This is to re-position the image of the Solomon Islands so that visitors can come and participate in local activities.

The other part of the campaign is called "Come Home."

Mr. Maelaua explained that instead of just promoting the visitor industry overseas, there also will be an emphasis on ensuring that the national economy recovers.

This will involve the Visitors Bureau, the government, the private sector and the civil society cooperating to create an atmosphere conducive to promoting tourism.

* Honiara residents will soon start paying rubbish collectors from their own pockets.

This was confirmed by Honiara City Council's senior health inspector Abednigo Mae'ohu in an interview with SIBC News.

Mae'ohu said the decision was made in light of the current situation, resulting in the council not being able to function properly.

The decision is expected to be implemented this week.

* Trade unions have been urged to help their public servant members who have and will go on unpaid leave.

General Secretary of the Public Employees Union (SIPEU) Clement Waiwori made the suggestion following announcement by the government that 1,000 workers are affected under the unpaid leave scheme.

Mr. Waiwori told SIBC News that SIPEU will help its 215 members, who are among the 1,000.

He suggested that other unions, such as the National Teachers Association, Nursing Association and other government unions, assist their members in facing the challenges of taking unpaid leave.

The government will pay each of the 1,000 public servants expected to go on unpaid leave a total of SI$ 2,000 (US$ 398) and passage home.

Finance Secretary George Kiriau earlier said the 1,000 public servants will remain on unpaid leave until the government's financial situation improves.

* The Ministry of National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace has set up several divisions to deal with the implementation of the cease-fire and the proposed peace agreement.

Deputy Prime Minister Kemakeza said this includes a Peace, Reconciliation and Rehabilitation division.

Mr. Kemakeza explained that the rehabilitation division, which has an Australian funded advisor, will also assist in the rehabilitation of members of the Isatabu Freedom Movement and the Malaita Eagle Force.

The Ministry has already started with the repatriation of 1,800 members of the Malaita Eagle Force to their villages on Malaita.

Mr. Kemakeza said his Ministry will soon do the same for the members of the Isatabu Freedom Movement.

Each of the 1,800 Malaita Eagle Force members were paid SI$ 1,000 (US$ 199) to assist with their repatriation.

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: 

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