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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (October 18, 2000 - Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation/PINA Nius Online)---A commission of inquiry will be set up to investigate acquisition of land on Guadalcanal by non-Guadalcanal people.

According to the Townsville Peace Agreement, the government will appoint the commission after consulting with the Malaita and Guadalcanal provincial governments.

The inquiry is expected to make findings and recommendations on the validity of land transactions completed before October 1, 1998.

Until the Commission of Inquiry submits its findings and recommendations, land previously acquired and occupied by non-Guadalcanal persons shall not be occupied, developed, sold or disposed.

Thousands of non-Guadalcanal people who had purchased land on Guadalcanal were displaced during the two-year-old Guadalcanal conflict.

(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 has been largely under the control of Guadalcanal's Isatabu Freedom Movement militia.)


Deputy Prime Minister Allan Kemakeza said the government will now be looking to its international friends to assist in funding its commitments under the Townsville Peace Agreement.

Mr. Kemakeza admitted to SIBC that a lot of money will be needed for rehabilitation, reconstruction and other major projects included in the agreement.

He said there had been positive responses from several countries and organizations even before the Peace Agreement was signed.

A unit has been set up in the Ministry of National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace to assemble all the programs for implementation.

Under the Townsville Peace Agreement, the national government and the Guadalcanal and Malaita provincial governments are required to negotiate a memorandum of understanding with respect to development incentives for the two provinces.

This could come in the form of Solomon Islands government loans and grants.

In other developments:

* The Marau Civilian Council and chiefs have formally apologized to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

An apology was made to the acting Head of Mission of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Solomon Islands in a brief reconciliation ceremony held at Marau.

The apology followed an incident of physical assault made on the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross in the Solomon Islands while he was distributing relief supplies to the people of Marau at Marapa Island two weeks ago.

The apology was accompanied by a presentation of traditional shell money by John Manehari of the Marau community.

Government and Solomon Islands Red Cross officials then discussed with the Marau community how repetition of such incidences could be prevented.

* The Solomon Islands Water Authority, SIWA, is continuing with attempts to supply water to parts of Honiara that have been without water since the White River source was damaged.

Acting General Manager of SIWA and Permanent Secretary of Works, Sam Maezama, said SIWA has developed plans to effect a new interconnection.

He said SIWA is also trying to recommission old pump stations, pipelines and reservoir tanks that have not been in use recently.

He said budgetary figures indicate SIWA needs more than $2 million dollars to restore water back to acceptable standards in Honiara.

* The Royal Solomon Islands Police will undergo major structural changes.

Commissioner of Police Morton Sireheti signaled that the force needs changes in policies and better methods of policing, recruitment, pay levels and management.

In a press statement, the Commissioner of Police said the need for change become apparent when the force was torn apart because of ethnic tension.

He commended the parties who had finally achieved and signed a Peace Agreement in Townsville, Australia.

* Malaita and Guadalcanal provinces are expected to be given more autonomy, either by devolution or constitutional amendment.

A clause in the peace agreement signed in Townsville over the weekend requires the national government to establish a constitutional council to rewrite the national constitution, to provide for more provincial autonomy.

The council will be required to take into account any recommendations made by committees currently reviewing the provincial government system, while at the same time noting the exclusive powers of Parliament to legislate such matters.

The peace agreement says the prime minister shall appoint members of the constitutional council after consultation with all provincial governments.

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: 



TAIPEI, Taiwan (October 18, 2000 – Radio Australia)---Vice Foreign Minister Wu Tze-dan says Taiwan will not withdraw its ambassador from the Solomon Islands despite allegations of political blackmail and rumors of a switch in diplomatic ties to the People’s Republic of China.

Taiwanese media quote Mr. Wu as saying the ambassador's continued presence in Honiara is necessary in order to consolidate bilateral diplomatic relations.

Mr. Wu was responding to calls from Taiwan lawmakers to retaliate against Solomon Islands Foreign Minister Danny Philip's decision to go to Beijing last week instead of attending Taiwan's National Day celebrations.

Taiwan has lodged a formal protest with the Solomon Islands.

(BACKGROUND: Solomon Islands Government Says Funding From Taiwan Exhausted; Minister’s Secret China Trip Causes Uproar)

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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