SOLOMONS WARLORDS URGED TO LAY DOWN WEAPONS

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SYDNEY, Australia (ABC News Online, Aug. 14) - The deputy
commissioner of the Solomon Islands police force said the arrest of militant
Harold Keke should encourage other rebels to give up their weapons.

Keke is now in the custody of the Australian-led intervention
force after appearing in a makeshift court earlier today on a series of firearms
offences and an attempted murder charge.

Deputy commissioner Ben McDevitt said other militants no longer
need to fear Keke and should hand in their weapons while an amnesty remains in
place.

"Many, many groups here and many individuals have said that
they are holding their firearms because of fear of Harold Keke and because of
the fact that Harold Keke holds firearms," McDevitt said.

"That excuse has now been removed. Harold Keke is no longer
at large."

Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister John Howard said the Keke
arrest will not result in any scaling down of the size of the intervention
force.

Howard is attending the annual Pacific Islands Forum leaders'
meeting in Auckland, New Zealand.

Howard said Keke's arrest was the high point of what had been
achieved by the intervention force over the past few weeks and both he and Sir
Allan Kemakeza were very pleased at Keke's agreement to give himself up.

But Howard said there would be no reassessment of the size of
the force.

He said that all along he had said the force would stay until
the job was finished.

"I've not tried to put any weeks or months or years on that
beyond what I've generally said in the past and that I would expect a draw down
of the military contribution after a modest period of time, but the police will
stay much longer. But I'm not trying to put weeks or months on that,"
Howard said.

August 15, 2003

ABC News Online: http://abc.net.au/news/ 

 

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