31 Dec 2015

Solomons ex-militant fund not a cash cow

8:30 am on 31 December 2015

The Solomon Islands Ministry of National Unity Reconciliation and Peace says the US$375,000 paid last week to an association representing ex-militants will not be accessible to its members as cash payouts.

Its permanent secretary, Justus Dinn, says the money is to go towards vocational and educational training and counselling services to help ex-combatants reintegrate into their communities.

Mr Dinn says the recent allocation for ex-Malaita Eagle Force members of the Solomon Islands Post Conflict Rehabilitation and Restoration Association is consistent with government's policy.

He says the ministry is working with the ex-militants' association on how the money will be spent.

"It will definitely not be in total cash. So we are looking at some kind of mind shifting or transformation training and livelihood or skills based training and a small livelihood support project."

Justus Dinn says funding for ex-members of the rival Guadalcanal Isatabu Freedom Movement is still being negotiated and will be put to cabinet early in the New Year.

A statement released by the office of the prime minister this week says the rehabilitation payments are to honour commitments made by government in 2000 at the signing of the Townsville Peace Agreement which was instrumental in bringing about the end of the conflict.

Jimmy Rasta, leader of the Malaita Eagle Force militia, in Solomon Islands in July 2003

Jimmy Rasta, leader of the Malaita Eagle Force militia, in Solomon Islands in July 2003 Photo: AFP