SOLOMON ISLANDS POLICE CHIEF CONCERNED OVER RECRUITMENT OF FORMER MILITANTS

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (January 4, 2001 - Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation/PINA Nius Online)---Solomon Islands Deputy Police Commissioner John Homelo has expressed concern over the continuous recruitment of special police constables from the two former militant groups --the Guadalcanal Isatabu Freedom Movement and the Malaita Eagle Force.

Mr. Homelo, who had been away from his office during the festive season, returned to find that the number of special constables recruited to supervise the return of arms and the maintenance of law and order had exceeded that required.

He confirmed to SIBC News that the number of recruits required under the Townsville Peace Agreement was supposed to have been 100 each from the two groups.

Mr. Homelo said he has spoken to those responsible for recruitment to be cautious as the government has not yet provided the budget to train those who will be recruited into the regular police.

He said further screening is being done on those who are carrying out work as special constables in Honiara, as well the Isatabu Freedom Movement recruits at Tetere on the Guadalcanal Plains.

Mr. Homelo said two weeks of introductory training in basic constabulary skills will be given to the recruits.

But he said getting the recruits acquainted with police work is a slow process and their performance is yet to be put to test.

He said the ones in Honiara continue to be assisted by the regular police while those from the former Isatabu Freedom Movement are working with provincial police.

In other news:

** Efforts to restore telecommunications with the Malaitan provincial capital of Auki have moved a step further with the submission of a project proposal by Solomon Telekom to the government.

Telekom's Acting General Manager, Loyley Ngira, said the proposal contains a bid to get financial assistance for the planned installation of a new earth station and telephone exchange in Auki.

Telecommunication links to Auki through Tenakaro and Gold Ridge were sabotaged in mid 2000, during intense confrontations between the former militant groups in the Guadalcanal crisis.

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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