2 Dec 2002

The Solomon Islands Opposition leader wants new talks with rebel leader, Harold Keke

8:23 am on 2 December 2002

The Solomon Islands Opposition leader Patteson Oti says the Government should try to re-open a dialogue with the rebel leader, Harold Keke.

A team of around 40 police and civilians has been hunting Keke on the Weather Coast for nearly two months, during which time at least eight people have been killed.

Most recently a police man and civilian were shot at Biti village.

Police say that people from an adjacent settlement, who had been badly treated by Keke, later burnt all the buildings in Biti village.

Six people from Biti are now in police custody in Honiara.

The government had established contact with Keke earlier this year and plans were made for reconciliation.

But this collapsed after the massacre of ten Malaitan men who had gone to the area to try to capture the rebel leader.

Patteson Oti says it is time to try establishing contact again:

"I think they started off that process and somehow it just fell through during the course of the year. I thikk they should start it again"