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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (December 2, 2001 - Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation/PINA Nius Online)---The Solomon Islands Christian Association, SICA, has reminded Solomon Islanders of their Christian responsibility in selecting the country's future leaders.

The people must vote in men and women who will re-establish joy, peace and prosperity in the Solomon Islands, SICA said in a statement on the general elections this Wednesday.

SICA said that this can only be done if the leaders people vote for are men and women who love God and their neighbors.

The association said that since 1998, when the ethnic conflict began, the Solomon Islands has gone through the worst of political turmoil and corruption and this has adversely affected the people.

People have been and continue to live in fear of guns and criminal activities, and the education of children has been disturbed and inflation skyrocketed, it said.

It called on all political parties and independent candidates to review their policies to ensure they enhance the promotion and re-establishment of "peace, joy, progress and prosperity."

In other news as the country -- facing a growing financial crisis and continuing law-and-order problems -- counts down to the vote:

* A United Nations election monitoring team arrived in Honiara, joining other foreign observer groups.

The five-member team is led by Fiji's Supervisor of Elections, Walter Rigamoto.

It also includes a magistrate of the Electoral Court of Panama, Eduardo Valdes Escoffrey, and three other election experts.

The team will be supported by two United Nations officials.

The United Nations Expert Election Monitoring Team will assess key aspects of the process, including voter registration, voter awareness, and the effectiveness of the Electoral Commission.

The team will provide a United Nations presence on polling day in Guadalcanal, Malaita and the Western provinces, and will monitor the counting of ballots in those locations.

* A threat to boycott the general elections in the East Kwaio constituency of Malaita province has been withdrawn.

The East Kwaio Fadanga cultural group said it has withdrawn the threat after reaching an understanding with the national and Malaita provincial governments over compensation payments.

Spokesman Dick Suinakwala said his delegation is satisfied with terms reached in discussions with the caretaker Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare, and Premier David Oeta, of Malaita province.

The group had lodged compensation claims totaling Sol$ 550,000 (US$ 99,990) for injuries, death and swearing during the ethnic tension.

Mr. Suinakwala said the national and Malaita provincial governments have shown a commitment to address the claims.

Following this undertaking, Mr. Suinakwala called on all eligible voters in the East Kwaio constituency to go to the polls on Wednesday and choose a leader to represent them in Parliament for the next four years.

* Teachers who are involved in election duties are being called on to withdraw if they do not receive their pay by Tuesday.

President of the National Teachers Association, SINTA, Kendrick Sanga, made the call while urging the government to stop discriminating in salary payments.

Mr. Sanga said teachers have not been paid for one month. He said he wants teachers given the same treatment as other government workers.

* Solomon Islanders will rely on the police force to address significant challenges in policing law and order and facilitating free and fair elections, Australian High Commissioner Bob Davis said.

He was speaking during the graduation of 63 police cadets in Honiara. Twenty-five new recruits graduated after 16 weeks of intensive training, while 38 former special constables were admitted as regulars after eight weeks of training.

Mr. Davis said Australia is pleased to help rebuild the force's capability to provide a safe and secure environment for the people.

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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