21 Nov 2003

Voters go to polls on Weather Coast of Guadalcanal

10:43 am on 21 November 2003

Voters in the previously lawless and strife-torn Weather Coast region of Guadalcanal in Solomon Islands go to the polls today to elect a new member of parliament to replace the former member who was murdered fifteen months ago.

The vote comes only days after the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands declared the region safe enough to commence a withdrawl of troops stationed in the area.

Six candidates will contest the election, including a former spokesman for the Guadalcanal Revolutionary Army , the militia group heavily involved in the ethnic fighting on Guadalcanal that began in 1999.

Another candidate is a former commander of the Guadalcanl Liberation Front, the group headed by the former MP's alleged murderer, Harold Keke.

Keke and several of his senior commanders are now remanded in custody awaiting trial for a number of serious offences commited in the area