WEAPONS STILL MISSING, SAYS SOLOMONS PEACE MONITOR

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (December 18, 2000 - Solomon Star/ Radio Australia/PINA Nius Online)---The Solomon Islands Peace Monitoring Council said there are still several hundred weapons at large after Friday's deadline for handing them in, Radio Australia reported.

Council chairman Sir Peter Kenilorea said he's concerned weapons stolen from police armories and posts have not been surrendered.

Sir Peter said the council knows how many police weapons were in the hands of former militants. He appealed to people still holding weapons to hand them in.

The weapons were supposed to have been handed in not later than Friday by former Malaita Eagle Force and Isatabu Freedom Movement militants under the Townsville Peace Agreement, which ended two years of ethnic conflict.

Meanwhile, the Solomon Islands news media have been told they have an important role putting daily happenings together to form a bigger picture.

The comment came from Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare at a function for Media Association of Solomon Islands (MASI) members.

The prime minister said that in the time of rehabilitation, healing and unity, the media's contribution to the process is immeasurable.

He said the media play an important role presenting different points of view. However, he urged the media to be mindful that opinions are put in the language of peace and not war.

He urged editors to exercise the utmost wisdom and control over the material that comes before them.

"You have to be a loyal servant to the truth," he told assembled journalists.

Mr. Sogavare said the local media's role in reporting the conflict over the past two years had been admirable.

"You have not shirked your responsibility to get information out to the public on a rapidly changing situation," he said.

"You have faced many risks in getting out to gather information and you have often had to work under extreme pressure to meet the necessity of deadlines within the stringent rules of accuracy."

Mr. Sogavare, however, criticized some foreign media for giving what he called a false impression of happenings in the Solomons.

"Too often the streets of Honiara were depicted as the center of a battle zone with the subtleties of geography flying out the window," he said.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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