NEW SOLOMONS POLICE CHIEF SERVED IN KOSOVO

HONIARA (SIBC/PINA, Feb. 2) - New Solomon Islands Police Commissioner William Morrell - the man charged with restoring law and order - has served with the United Nations in trouble-torn Kosovo.

According to information obtained by SIBC News, Commissioner Morrell, 47, was formerly chief superintendent of the specialist operations branch with Britain’s Greater Manchester Police.

He was seconded to serve in Kosovo, which is recovering from a bitter ethnic conflict between Serbs and local Muslims. Morrell's duties included being deputy director of the Kosovo police service school.

In Solomon Islands, Morrell will lead efforts to rebuild the police after the more than two years of ethnic conflict here, and end law and order problems.

Australia and New Zealand have already been doing work in this area, with New Zealand officers working alongside Solomon Islands counterparts as mentors.

Morrell said he was looking forward to working closely with the Government and people in rebuilding public confidence in the Police.

Prime Minister Sir Allan Kemakeza has appealed to police officers of all ranks and the public to support Morrell's efforts.

Sir Allan said under the leadership of a neutral officer the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force can restore law and order and rebuild public confidence.

Sir Allan said given the ethnic, cultural and political differences, the appointment of someone with wide experience and a neutral background like Morrell is best.

Morrell takes over a force badly hurt when elements of the paramilitary Police Field Force joined Malaita Eagle Force militia in the June 2000 Honiara coup.

Police armories, including the main one in Honiara, were raided and emptied of their guns and Honiara taken over.

Weapons taken included high-powered guns acquired when the Police Field Force was strengthened for duty on the Papua New Guinea border during the Bougainville conflict.

Morrell's first example of the problems he faces could come early.

The Government is now considering a claim from police officers of about SBD$26 million for outstanding operation allowances.

Sources within the Government revealed to SIBC News that the original claim was for SBD$60 million. But this was cut back after some claims which had already been paid were found included in the new claim.

SIBC News understands that the claims include allowances for special operations in the past few years.

February 3, 2003

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