18 Oct 2002

UN assessment team arrives in Solomon Islands

8:10 am on 18 October 2002

A high-level UN mission has arrived in Solomon Islands to assess the security situation in the country.

The officials include a member of the UN disarmament office and are to meet government ministers.

The foreign minister, Nollen Leni, says the visit follows a recent appeal by the prime minister, Sir Allan Kemakeza, in New York for the world body to help restore law and order in Solomon Islands,

Mr Leni says it is important for the UN officials to see the situation for themselves.

This week, Solomon Islands celebrated the end of the 2000 Townsville Peace Agreement which ended ethnic fighting.

But its signatories have largely ignored the provision to disarm.

Although Sir Allan had made the collection of stolen weapons a policy priority, he has now admitted that he told militants to keep them in a process aimed at capturing rebel leader, Harold Keke.

A hunt for Keke is underway on Guadalcanal's weathercoast where he has killed a government minister and a group of Malaitan men trying to capture him.