PAYMENT OF SOLOMON ISLANDS POLICE SALARIES MAY STOP VOTE BOYCOTT

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (November 30, 2001 - Solomon Star/PINA Nius Online)---Solomon Islands police officers said they might withdraw their threat to boycott election duties next week if their salaries are paid.

The chairperson of the Senior and Subordinate Police Officers' Association, David Bale, said: "It will all depend on the payment of our salaries. If we receive our pay today we may lift the threat."

Mr. Bale said that during a meeting among representatives of the government, police, and the Electoral Commission it was agreed police officers should get one of the salary payments they have not received.

The government has been struggling to pay public servants as a result of the growing financial crisis following two years of ethnic conflict, and continuing uncertainty peace in the country.

The general elections next Wednesday are seen as a major test for the country's political and economic future.

Mr. Bale said during the meeting that it was agreed only a certain number of police officers would be involved in election security duties.

"The agreed number ... is within the Electoral Commission's budget allocated for security duties," he said.

"It was also agreed that allowances would be paid to police officers who would be deployed. The allowances would be paid after the election."

In other news in the countdown to the vote, in which 328 candidates are contesting 50 seats:

* A naturalized citizen of Japanese origin, businessman Y. Sato, said he would continue to contest the West Honiara constituency despite receiving a threat he would be harmed if he did not withdraw.

* Wednesday has been declared a special public holiday to allow everyone registered to vote.

* Observer groups from the Pacific Islands Forum and Commonwealth continued to hold meetings with local organizations.

* The Australian observer team will be led by Greg Urwin, one of Australia's best known Pacific diplomats.

* The New Zealand observer group will include three former high commissioners to the Solomon Islands and five Members of Parliament.

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

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