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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (May 7, 2002 - Solomon Star/PINA Nius Online)---Solomon Islands women peace monitors from regions all over Malaita and Guadalcanal have been honored at a Peace Monitoring Council workshop in Honiara.

Council chairperson Paul Tovua praised the women monitors for "the very valuable peace making role" they and other women had played during the 1998-2000 ethnic conflict.

He also hailed the role they are continuing to play today.

The workshop, held at the council's headquarters at Point Cruz in Honiara, included 10 women recently selected as peace monitors on Malaita.

A Peace Monitoring Council review of the effectiveness of women monitors found that women were very successful at reconciliation activities in communities, and negotiations with former militants.

This was because of their status as respected community leaders, it said.

Peace Monitoring Councilors briefed the women on the council's role under the Townsville Peace Agreement to promote peace and weapons surrender.

They asked the women for their views on peace making.

A number of women said they had decided to become peace monitors because they had already been active in peace making and reconciliation in their own communities.

A number of them also said they were willing to join the Peace Monitoring Council because "we have had enough of troubles from former militants."

They said they wished the former militants "would quickly hand over their weapons so that peace can return to our country."

Hundreds of high-powered weapons have still not been returned despite the peace agreement. This has led to continuing law and order problems, and worsened the country's economic crisis.

A major amnesty program is now being conducted in an effort to get the guns handed in before the end of this month.

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

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