12 Feb 2003

Solomon Islands demobilisation process to continue despite killing

11:26 am on 12 February 2003

Police in Solomon Islands are hunting for the man who shot dead a member of the National Peace Council, Sir Fredrick Soaki, in the Malaitan provincial capital of Auki on Monday night

The police commissioner, William Morrell, says Sir Fredrick, who was also a fomer police commissioner, was in Auki as part of a team working on the demobilisation of 800 special constables.

The police commissioner says it's not yet known if the killing was aimed at derailing the demobilisation process.

"There is an assumption that it maybe to derail that process but we're exploring all avenues, so we're keeping our minds open."

The police commissioner says the demobilisation of special constables will continue despite the killing.

The chairman of Solomon Islands National Peace Council, Paul Tovua, says he's shocked by the killing .

It is a great shock to us and it's a loss not only to the NPC, the National Peace Council, but to the whole country. As you know, Sir Fred is a member of the National Peace Council and a former police comissioner. At this stage we do not know the full details of his death, we of course must wait for police investigation to confirm what happened.

Mr Tovua says the National Peace council will be meeting in the next couple of days to discuss whether they should continue being involved in the demobilisation workshops.

Meanwhile, the Suva-based UNDP coordinator responsible for Solomon Islands, Peter Witham, says he is convinced the attack had nothing to do with the demobilisation project or the UN.