HONIARA, Solomon Islands (October 6, 2000 - Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation/PINA Nius Online)---Solomon Airlines pilot Eric Rove has finally been reunited with his family in Honiara.

The general manager of Solomon Airlines, Gideon Zoloveke, Junior, confirmed that Captain Rove was brought back to Honiara yesterday afternoon by members of the Melanesian Brotherhood of the Church of Melanesia.

The brothers had gone to the Babanakira area on Guadalcanal's Weather Coast to represent the government in negotiations to free Captain Rove.

Mr. Zoloveke could not give further details, saying he will have a debriefing session with the pilot today.

Head Brother of the Melanesia Brotherhood, Brother Harry Gereniu, who led the group to the Weather Coast, said Captain Rove looks well but might need some counseling because of the situation he was in since September 16.

Captain Rove and his Britten Norman Islander plane were taken by a local Isatabu Freedom Movement militia leader and his men during a regular passenger flight from Honiara to the Weather Coast.

Mr. Zoloveke confirmed that the Islander aircraft, still held at Babanakira, is O.K. and his office is working with the government and the militants on the timing for the return of the aircraft.

When asked whether some money has been paid for the return of the pilot, the airline's general manager said no money was paid.

He said misunderstanding by the militants on the disbursement of funds to Guadalcanal province, which lead to the issue, has been resolved, and they are working with Guadalcanal province on full resolution of the matter.

In the meantime, service to three airstrips in south and east Guadalcanal remain suspended.

Mr. Zoloveke said they will review the suspension when the aircraft at Babanakira is returned to Honiara.

(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, this 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:

* Honiara residents will continue to experience power cuts in some parts of the city until all generators used by the Solomon Islands Electricity Authority, SIEA, are back in service.

General Manager Mike Mason said that although the problem of a fuel shortage is over now, the company still faces a shortage of generators, thus making it impossible to generate the electric power required for all of Honiara.

He said a four-kilowatt generator, which supplies most electricity to Honiara, is currently under repair and hopefully it will be back in service by early next week.

Mr. Mason said the supply of fuel to the company storage tanks has been fully restored as of today.

Meanwhile, he said Honiara residents will continue to experience power cuts due to load shedding to ensure a fair distribution of the limited power available to customers

Mr. Mason said load shedding is only being done during working days when the demand for electricity is high.

* Member of Parliament for East Kwaio Alfred Sasako said he is pleased that the venue for the next round of peace talks will be in the state of Queensland, Australia.

He said that Queensland was the birthplace of the South Sea Evangelical Church, SSEC, of which many Solomon Islanders are followers.

Mr. Sasako said those attending the peace talks should return with the vigor to convince others to live peacefully, as the pioneers of the church had done in the 1800s.

He thanked the government of Australia for choosing Queensland as the state for the peace talk and praised the national government for accepting the offer.

* A large residential building believed to be worth more than 300-thousand dollars was burned to the ground early yesterday morning in Honiara.

Onlookers from nearby homes told SIBC they saw men taking off in a truck with some items removed from the building.

They say two gas cylinders burst into huge flames and the two-story building was quickly engulfed by fire.

The owner of the building, a local businessman, Hedley Toata, was believed to be away at the time of the burning.

* Solomon Islanders are eagerly waiting a report by the Government for National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace on achievements during its first 100 days in office.

The 100 days period ends Sunday.

Meanwhile, a Honiara resident says the government has failed to bring about the promises it made for implementation in its first 100 days in office.

The government announced early in July, after being installed, that law and order was among the prioritized areas it would address within the 100-day period.

But the Honiara resident said instead the law and order situation in the capital has deteriorated with the continual harassment of people and the stealing of properties.

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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