22 Aug 2002

Unconfirmed reports that Cabinet Minister assassinated in Solomons

4:51 pm on 22 August 2002

Solomon Islands police are yet to confirm reports that a government minister has been shot and killed by rebels on the Guadalcanal Weathercoast. .

The Deputy Police Commissioner, Wilfred Akao, says he has yet to receive verification of reports that the minister was killed by members of the Guadacanal Liberation Front, which is headed by Harold Keke. .

Mr Keke yesterday called the local broadcaster Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation, to say the Minister, who is one of the MPs for the region, had been shot dead.

But Mr Akao says while a case has been registered, no police investigation has been launched as yet.

"Although we have received that report about the killing, but we have to wait until an independent source from the Weathercoast to verify whether the report is true or not."

Deputy Police Commissioner Wilfred Akao.

Solomons media report that police and the Prime Minister's office have been holding talks today with members of the church group, the Melanesian Brotherhood, who have just returned from the Weather Coast.

The Brotherhood has been increasingly used as an intermediary with Harold Keke and the Guadalcanal Liberation Front.

The news editor of the SIBC, Walter Nalangu, says Harold Keke contacted them by radio telephone yesterday

He told us to put out a story calling on the Government to immeditely arrange a by-election for the South Guadalcanal constituency, because their Member of Parliament has died'.

He says Mr Keke indicated that the Minister had been shot.

Mr Nalangu says Mr Keke had already voiced his concerns to the station about the Minister earlier this month.

And he says yesterday Mr Keke elaborated on why the Minister was killed.

He said he has not been honest to his voters, he cited some documents found in his suitcase alleging that he probably had misused some of the money that could have been used for development in that constituency and he ... in Harold's own words, he used it for his own wallet.

Walter Nalangu of the SIBC.