28 Aug 2003

Claims of renewed violence on Weather Coast dismissed by RAMSI

9:28 pm on 28 August 2003

The head of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands has dismissed reports that supporters of the rebel warlord Harold Keke have recently burnt down villages along the Weathercoast of Guadalcanal.

Keke surrendered to the RAMSI leadership two weeks ago and is in custody in Honiara where he is facing charges of attempted murder, robbery, possession of unlicensed firearms and illegal association.

The RAMSI leader says the reports related to around 20 to 30 huts in the Tari area which had in fact been burned down almost a fortnight ago, before the establishment of a police post there.

There had also been claims another leader had emerged to lead Keke's followers.

But Mr Warner says the Weathercoast had been peaceful since the force established the police posts.

And the acting police commissioner Ben McDevitt says since the Tari police post was set up, officers have patrolled extensively and there have been no reports whatsoever of additional strife.

He says RAMSI expects to hear more such stories of houses being burnt but they are likely to be reports of historical crimes.