Payout To Solomons Ex-Militants Called ‘Ticking Time Bomb’

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

‘Criminals’ who caused suffering should not be compensated

By Charley Piringi

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Jan. 11, 2016) – Burns Creek community leader John Seti Iromea has described the recent $3million [US$369,000] payment to ex-militants as a "ticking timed bomb".

Iromea said many members of his community and the public at large cannot swallow news of the payout made by the government to former Malaita Eagle Force members on Christmas Eve 2015.

However, Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare had earlier explained that the payment was to rehabilitate those ex-combatants who voluntarily surrendered their guns within the amnesty period.

He said the $3 million is a partial of the overall rehabilitation and reintegration program to ex-combatants in the ethnic tension which devastated the country from 1999 to 2003.

The Prime Minister said the partial payment was a commitment by the government in honor of the Townsville Peace Agreement (TPA).

He explained that the agreement saw ex-combatants lay down their arms, which paved the way for the restoration of law and order in the country.

The Prime Minister said the rehabilitation funds were paid only to ex-combatants issued with Amnesty certificates as stipulated under the TPA.

He said anyone who claims to be an ex-combatant but fails to produce an amnesty certificate will not be considered for participation in this programme.

But Iromea rebuffed the Prime Minister’s reason as utter rubbish describing ex-combatants as criminals.

He said the former militants have caused so much sufferings and injustices to many innocent Solomon Islanders during the ethnic tension period.

Iromea said many victims have lost their lives and properties but have never been fairly compensated.

And in view of that he did not think government is doing them justice for paying peace with public money to the instigators of those crimes.

Iromea described the payment to ex-militants as re-activating a time bomb since victims of the ethnic tension will be reminded of their sufferings, which should not have been allowed to re-emerge.

Chief Iromea said chiefs and former victims in and around Honiara plan to convene a meeting to discuss their grievances over Government’s action.

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