Solomon Star

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (May 17) – A delegation of members of parliament from Malaita will travel to the Solomon Islands province this week to meet with rebel militants there.

Prime Minister Allan Kemakeza, currently in Hawai’i, is sending the delegation on behalf of the Government.

The militants had earlier demanded the resignation of Kemakeza, accusing him of selling the country’s sovereignty to Australia. They also alleged Australians in RAMSI (Regional Assistance Mission Solomon Islands) were driven by ethnic hatred, directed particularly against Malaitans.

The government’s move to meet and have dialogue with the group is appreciated. However, the delegation must be warned against making any concessions with the militants. They are not a legitimate group; neither do they represent the interest of Malaitans or Solomon Islanders. They were just remnants of the now disbanded Malaita Eagle Force, most of whom were also hiding from police.

Instead, the Malaitan lawmakers should use the opportunity to convince the group that the move it is taking is not in the best interest of the country. It should also be told that the people of Solomon Islands have had enough of what had happened in the country from 1999 to 2003.

If members of the group have grievances and allegations to make against the prime minister, they should come forward and provide evidence to the local or RAMSI police. And if they knew of politicians who used them for their own purpose during the ethnic tension, they should name those politicians. At the same time, they should be told that members of the group who are wanted by the police should come forward and give themselves up.

It was good to know that they were raising certain issues of concern. But they should do so through proper and legal channels.

In relaying the above to the group, the MPs must not make room for concessions. To do that would be to legitimise what in fact was an illegitimate group.

The ordinary people of various parts of Malaita have already spoken. They are not part of this so-called Malaita Separatist Movement, and will not support the group in anyway.

The people want peace and normalcy. They want to move on with their lives.

In any discussions to be held, national interest must come first, than those of a few.

May 17, 2005

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