SYDNEY, Australia (ABC News Online, July 29) - The Solomon Islands Governor-General has sworn in the top policeman in the Australian intervention force, Ben McDevitt, as a deputy commissioner of the Solomons police force.

McDevitt now controls law and order on the troubled Weathercoast of Guadalcanal where the militant Harold Keke holds sway.

Solomon Islands police commissioner William Morell told a news conference after the swearing in at Government House in Honiara that he was encouraged by the fact that Keke had released some of his hostages.

"We're also making it very clear to Keke that I've given full authority for McDevitt to use such force that he needs, should that be necessary," he said.

"But I re-emphasise that we are trying to look for a peaceful settlement to this particular situation. I know Mr Keke wants to make statements, I hope he will have the opportunity to do that in a court of law."

It is a blunt message to the Weathercoast militant of an intention that the rule of law will now prevail in the Solomon Islands.

July 29, 2003

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