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Malaita murder last year threat to peace

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, March 29, 2009) – Former politician Alfred Sasako yesterday issued an urgent appeal to East Kwaio chiefs, church and community leaders to help police in resolving the stand off over the killing of an elderly man earlier this year.

Mr. Sasako is also urging the Member for East Kwaio, Stanley Festus Sofu and the two Malaita Provincial Assembly Members for East Kwaio to provide resources to the chiefs and community leaders to enable them to achieve a peaceful outcome.

At the same time, Mr Sasako is calling on the Police Commissioner to ensure senior Kwaio policemen are deployed in the case as they know the customs and the people well.

Sasako issued the three-pronged appeal yesterday, saying he has received reports of a worrying development in the case.

"I have received, for example, reports that one of the sons of the elderly man hacked to death in February this year has offered a "sikwa" or payment to anyone who carries out revenge killing in retaliation for his father’s death," he said.

"Offering of shell money [sikwa] for revenge killing is a traditional practice long abandoned by the Kwaio people.

"The fact that this young man has resurrected it makes the matter even more explosive, given that the suspects in the initial killing are known," Sasako said.

He said in the olden days there was only one shell money on offer.

"I have been advised authoritatively that the ‘sikwa’ or payment for revenge killing offered by the young man whose father was murdered is 10 shell money.

"This offer has an obvious appeal about it. The fact that any relative[s] of the suspects can be targeted for the sake of receiving the sikwa is very frightening as it has the potential for igniting a tribal war in East Kwaio," Sasako said.

He said there’s only one way to avoid such an outcome.

"As I see it, tribal chiefs, church leaders, community and village leaders must leave no stone unturned in ensuring the suspects are handed over to police in a peaceful way.

"At the same time, senior Kwaio policemen must be deployed in the case as they know how to deal with their own people.

"Thirdly, the three politicians representing East Kwaio must provide the resources to East Kwaio chiefs, church and community leaders to enable them to work with police towards achieving a peaceful and mutual outcome.

"What I am suggesting is not new as in my time as an MP, I have done this, including in one incident where I provided more than $10, 000 [US$1,435] in cash to help East Kwaio policemen obtained a desired outcome.

"I can vouch for the workability of such an approach.

"Ignoring my appeal will only result in one thing that is that, in the event a revenge killing is carried out – a tribal war that will spread like wildfire

Solomon Star: http://www.solomonstarnews.com/

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