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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (June 1, 2002 - SIBC/PINA Nius Online)---Solomon Islands government special representative Yukio Sato described negotiations with rebel commander Harold Keke on the Weathercoast of Guadalcanal as successful.

The government sent Mr. Sato, a businessman and independent MP, to negotiate with Mr. Keke and his men to surrender their weapons under an amnesty, which expired Friday.

Some former Malaita Eagle Force militia members were earlier reported as saying they cannot surrender their guns unless Mr. Keke's group hands in theirs.

Mr. Keke, a former Isatabu Freedom Movement commander, was not a party to the Townsville Peace Agreement, which ended more than two years of ethnic conflict.

This agreement was signed between the Isatabu Freedom Movement, a Guadalcanal militia, and the Malaita Eagle Force, made up of men from Malaita, in October 2000. But hundreds of high-powered weapons were not returned and this contributed to continuing law and order problems.

Mr. Keke's group comes from Guadalcanal's rugged and undeveloped Weathercoast.

They fought off an earlier effort to disarm them.

In other developments:

* Honiara City Mayor Ronald Fugui commended former Malaita Eagle Force militants who cleaned the main streets of Honiara.

He thanked Jimmy Rasta -- who leads a group of former militants regarded with suspicion by some Honiara residents -- for organizing the project.

* Forty-two of the 50 Members of Parliament have so far signed the public declaration that they and members of their families possess no guns or ammunition.

Among the latest to sign was Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Alex Bartlett, who was formerly closely linked with the Malaita Eagle Force.

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:


HONIARA, Solomon Islands (June 1, 2002 – Radio New Zealand International)---Guadalcanal militant Harold Keke remains a major obstacle to the success of the weapons amnesty project in the Solomon Islands.

The deadline for the weapons amnesty expired on Friday, but Mr. Keke’s refusal to join the handover may be discouraging other ex-militants in Honiara from handing in their weapons.

In the past fortnight hundreds of guns have been surrendered including nearly 100 high-powered weapons held illegally by police.

A spokesman for the Peace Monitoring Council says they have tried to set up talks with Keke, but to no avail.

The spokesman says the government is also doing its part in trying to hold talks with Keke over the surrender of arms and has appointed West Honiara MP Yukio Sato as its emissary.

For additional reports from Radio New Zealand International, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio New Zealand International.

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