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Lusibaea jailed 5 years before Malaita victory

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Aug. 9, 2010) - A former militia leader who spent five years in prison has won a seat in the Solomon Islands election.

Jimmy Lusibaea won a landslide victory in his North Malaita constituency, with nearly four times as many votes as his nearest rival.

Mr. Lusibaea was known as "Jimmy Rasta" during the Pacific nation's five years of ethnic turmoil, in which hundreds of people died.

He led the now disbanded Malaita Eagle Force militia group and was one of many high-profile militia leaders arrested in 2003 after surrendering weapons in exchange for amnesty.

He was jailed for five years for assault and robbery after being acquitted of more serious charges.

Mr. Lusibaea has told reporters his violent past has helped him become a respected member of his community.

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