HONIARA, Solomon Islands (RNZI, Jan. 9) - The Solomon Islands Government has appointed a former Guadalcanal MP to negotiate a peace treaty with the rebel warlord Harold Keke.

Keke, whose Guadalcanal Liberation Front refused to back the earlier Townsville Peace Agreement, has been the subject of a police hunt in recent months.

A team, which at one point numbered nearly one hundred regular police, special constables and civilians, has been on the Weather Coast trying to capture Keke, who is held responsible for dozens of deaths.

The police campaign has so far cost at least nine lives, including four members of the police team.

The Government has appointed Kamilo Teke, a former Catholic priest, as its peace negotiator.

As well as trying to reach a deal with Keke, he will endeavor to get all conflicting groups on Guadalcanal to end hostilities and reconcile.

Teke says he has already started talks with traditional and community leaders in the region and the response has been encouraging.

The Minister for National Unity and Reconciliation, Nathaniel Waena, says the peace effort will supplement the police campaign on the Weather Coast.

Acting police commissioner John Homelo says the police will remain there, but are now monitoring Keke’s movements rather than pursuing him.

January 9, 2003

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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