SOLOMON ISLANDS PM SIR ALLAN MEETS WITH REBEL KEKE

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (February 28, 2002 - Solomon Star/PINA Nius Online, 28 February 2002) - Solomon Islands Prime Minister Sir Allan Kemakeza has met with Guadalcanal Liberation Front leader Harold Keke in what is seen as another step forward in the peace process.

Sir Allan traveled from Honiara to Guadalcanal's rugged Weather Coast to talk with Mr. Keke, who did not accept the Townsville Peace Agreement that ended two years of ethnic conflict, primarily between Guadalcanal and Malaita.

West Honiara Member of Parliament Yukio Sato accompanied the Prime Minister on the one-day trip, after earlier visiting Mr. Keke to lay the groundwork for the meeting.

The Prime Minister’s party traveled by a helicopter supplied by the International Peace Monitoring Team.

"We were very happy to facilitate this meeting by providing the helicopter," team deputy leader Paul Willis said.

Sir Allan went in person to show his government’s seriousness in achieving the return of all guns inside its 100-day program, according to a spokesperson.

Sir Allan will present a report on the peace process at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Australia this weekend.

Mr. Sato, an independent MP, said the meeting with Mr. Keke will help the planned peace talks by Guadalcanal Province leaders being organized by the government and the Peace Monitoring Council.

Mr. Sato said there was an unexpectedly warm welcome for them from the Weather Coast villagers, who had spent a long time preparing.

The planned meeting of Guadalcanal leaders will pave the way for the resumption of the Townsville Peace Agreement, which is still suspended. This is due to the withdrawal of Guadalcanal Province parties.

It is hoped that all parties, including the Guadalcanal Liberation Front, will attend so that Guadalcanal will be represented as one voice when the

Townsville Peace Agreement is resumed.

Another proposed peace meeting by all signatories will be held in June.

This meeting was planned for early March but it has been cancelled to give time for all parties to prepare.

The Peace Monitoring Council said because of the complexity of some issues, there were concerns that the March date would not allow all the parties enough time to address them thoroughly.

Rather than make hasty decisions, said the council, they felt it would be prudent to delay the process so that the parties have more time to prepare.

Mr. Keke was not a signatory to the peace agreement signed in Townsville on October 15, 2000.

He and his men have since been involved in a number of incidents.

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

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