27 Oct 2003

Mixed claims of intimidation surround villagers' attempts to return to Weathercoast in the Solomons

8:28 am on 27 October 2003

Solomon Islanders attempting to return to their villages on the Weather Coast of Guadalcanal say they are being threatened, harrassed and assaulted.

The villagers left the area during the rule of the rebel leader, Harold Keke, who is now in jail facing murder charges.

The National Peace Council monitor, Margaret Vogho, said in a national radio broadcast over the weekend, that people trying to return to their homes had met with resistance from the supposedly disbanded Guadalcanal Liberation Front.

Ms Vogho also claimed that Peace Council Monitors have had their freedom of movement restricted in the area that was previously a stronghold of Keke and his followers.

But the Deputy Police Commissiner, Ben Mc Devitt has disputed the reports.

He says GLF followers have reported being threatened by returning villagers.

Meanwhile, the head of the Intervention Force, Nick Warner, has said that RAMSI holds no responsibility or mandate to move the internally displaced people now living at Titinge, back to their homes on Weathercoast.