23 Dec 2002

Solomons PM plans to pay compensation to rebel leader

12:48 pm on 23 December 2002

A government envoy in Solomon Islands has revealed that the Prime Minister has agreed to pay almost half a million US dollars in compensation payments to a wanted rebel leader.

Harold Keke, the head of the the Guadalcanal Liberation Front, had demanded the money to compensate for the loss of lives during operations to capture him.

The Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation has reported that the government envoy, Yukio Sato, says the Prime Minister, Sir Allan Kemakeza, has promised to give the money to Keke and his people.

Yesterday, the Australian Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer condemned a plan by Sir Allen to pay special constables after they shot at his house.

Mr Downer said he had expressed Australia's reservations about the payment, but he says the prime minister felt he had no alternative.