HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Radio Australia, Feb. 13) - Solomon Islands Police Commissioner William Morrell has suspended the demobilization of armed "special constables" on the island of Malaita after the recent assassination of a leading peace negotiator.

National Peace Councilor Sir Fredrick Soaki was shot in the regional capital, Auki, on Monday.

Soaki was in the town as part of a United Nations program to disarm hundreds of "special constables," recruited to stop the ethnic fighting between militia from Guadalcanal and Malaita. The constables, former ethnic militiamen, had become a threat to peace efforts, officials say.

Morrell says as a result of the killing there is now a need to review the project on Malaita, and has suspended it indefinitely.

He also says while there is an assumption the demobilization is related to the killing of Soaki, police are keeping an open mind as they investigate the incident.

The demobilization project is continuing on the main island of Guadalcanal.

The constitutional reform consultation process on Malaita has also believed to have been suspended after the killing.

Meanwhile, Solomon Islands police say they still have no suspect or possible motive for the killing of Soaki.

The UNDP says it is convinced the assassination had nothing to do with its demobilization program.

February 13, 2003

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