HONIARA, Solomon Islands (September 28, 2000 - Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation/PINA Nius Online)---A three-man United Nations Assessment Mission for Disarmament is currently in Honiara to determine how the world body could assist in ending the two-year old ethnic tension on Guadalcanal.

The Department of Foreign Affairs says the mission results from Foreign Minister Danny Philip's recent trip to the United Nations.

SIBC understands that during his discussions with various agencies of the UN in New York, Mr. Philip stressed the need for the disarming of both the Isatabu Freedom Movement and the Malaita Eagle Force in order for peace to return to Solomon Islands.

The United Nations was understood to have expressed concern over school-aged boys joining the two militant groups and getting involved in armed combat.

The UN Mission is expected to meet with the Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare, and his Deputy, Allan Kemakeza, as well as the Leader of Opposition, Bartholomew Ulufa'alu.

It will also meet with the Minister of Police and Justice, William Haomae, Commissioner of Police Morton Sireheti, and leaders of the Isatabu Freedom Movement and the Malaita Eagle Force.

They will also hold meetings with the Red Cross, the Solomon Islands Christian Association, representatives of women and non-government organizations, and members of the diplomatic corp.

The UN Mission leaves Honiara next Tuesday.

(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:

* The Central Bank of Solomon Islands has produced an assessment of government revenue in the aftermath of the take-over of Honiara in June by members of the joint Malaita Eagle Force/police paramilitary force elements operation.

The assessment for the month of July says government's spending at that time continued to show unfavorable outcomes emanating from the conflict on Guadalcanal.

It said the direct impact of the crisis on government revenue was obvious, in the low collections incurred by the Customs and Excise Department and the Inland Revenue Division.

Customs collected only SI$ 6.7 million (US$ 1,333,300), far below the monthly estimate, while the Inland Revenue Division experienced almost a 40 percent drop in revenue, collecting more than SI$ 15 million (US$ 2,985,000) before the takeover and just over SI$ 9 million (US$ 1,791,999) after.

But the assessment says government revenue had been dropping four consecutive months before July.

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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