Te Karere Ipurangi
Maori News Online
Solomon Islands Coup Supplement
7 Jun 2000 - 6.00pm
Transcript of News items broadcast by Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation (courtesy of SIBC)
The Prime Minister Bartholomew Ulufa'alu says what happened on Monday was literally a coup and that he and his family feared for their lives.
But in his first interview since his house arrest early Monday morning, Mr Ulufa'alu said he was thankful for the guards who looked after him and his family after the joint operation.
"Literally, it's a coup. Fortunate enough, I was asked to consider resigning within 48 hours which is effective today [Wednesday]. However the leadership of the Malaita Eagle or of that joint operation have agreed to extend that deadline and also have agreed to remove the officers that were guiding me at the resident."
Mr Ulufa'alu confirmed that he has not resigned but will wait for the meeting of Parliament to be convened next Thursday.
He also called on the two warring factions to return to their pre-coup positions so that peace talks could continue.
The Guadalcanal Provincial Government is calling on the international community to assist in the political turmoil in Solomon Islands.
Speaking today Premier Alebua made the blanket call to all communities and countries who uphold the principles of democracy.
He also requested all provincial governments in the country to support the causes of upholding democracy in efforts to end all acts of agreession.
Meanwhile, Mr Alebua urged Prime Minister Bartholomew Ulufa'alu not to resign.
Moderator of the Joint Operations in Honiara Andrew Nori has said any removal of the prime minister must meet constitutional requirements.
ALL OUT WAR DECLARED
The Malaita Eagle Force has as of yesterday declared an all out war against the Isatabu Freedom Movement.
Spokesman for the Malaita Eagle Force, Andrew Nori confirmed this in an exclusive interview with SIBC News this afternoon.
"I' am also sad to say that as of yesterday, [Tuesday], the Malaita Eagle force have publicly declared war on IFM. Not the people of Guadalcanal. So there is a heavy build up of people at the Alligator Creek area, equiment has been deployed to the area, and by tonight [Wednesday night] and tomorrow [Thursday], there will be a major offensive into Guadalcanal into the foxwood area which may result in extending their roadblock, their bunkers as far as foxwood."
Mr Nori said the Malaita Eagle Force sees this action as necessary to protect the city of Honiara and its citizens from the infiltration of the IFM who he claimed were mounting an intense build up of men from both east and west ends of the capital.
Mr Nori said intense fighting has been going on between the two groups since early this morning, but he anticipates fighting will escalate further tonight and onward.
He said the Malaita Eagle Force used a patrol boat today to bombard the shoreline area east of the Alligator Creek while its ground forces pushed eastward from Henderson Airport.
Mr Nori however, pointed out that the war is not against the ordinary people of Guadalcanal or anyone else other than members of the Isatabu Freedom Movement.
Nori said since fighting began this morning, he was sad to report that there were heavy casualties incurred, a claim which could not be verified by any independent person.
Asked how long the fighting will go on, Mr Nori said until the Eagle Force is satisfied that the Isatabu Freedom Fighters are pushed further east and west to positions which no longer pose threat to the Honiara city citizens.
The National Parliament will convene a special meeting next Thursday 15th June to resolve the current security and political crisis which continues to cripple Solomon Islands.
The decision follows intense negotiation since Monday between the Government Caucus and leaders of a joint operation of the police paramilitary force and the militant group, the Malaita Eagles Force.
The joint group took over the state-owned armoury at the Police Headquarters, took over the streets of the capital and placed Prime Minister Bartholomew Ulufa'alu under heavy military guard.
They also called for the resignation of Prime Minister Ulufa'alu.
In a joint statement issued this morning, Spokesman for Government Caucus, Paterson Oti and Joint Operation Spokesman Andrew Nori said Parliament will convene to activate the constitutional procedure for the removal of the Prime Minister.
The statement says in view of the announcement of a date for the meeting of Parliament, the 48 hours resignation notice issued by the joint operation was no longer necessary.
The heavy military style guard placed over the Prime Minister, Mr Ulufa'alu will also be removed as from today and placed under the care of the regular police.
The joint statement says consultation between the Government and the joint operation is continuing taking into consideration views of the international community.
The action by the joint operation have been strongly condemned by Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Great Britain, the Commonwealth and the European Union.
PATROL BOAT WITHDREW
The Para-military/MEF Joint Operation has withdrawn the patrol boat from the sea area off Tenaru on Guadalcanal.
The patrol boat was used to bombard the shoreline along Tenaru area East of Honiara.
And while overseas reports claim that hundreds of people have died from skirmishes in the area today, SIBC News has not been able to verify the figures from reliable sources in the capital.
Attempts by the Red Cross Society to move into the area yesterday and today had not been successful.
Fighting between members of the Isatabu Freedom Movement and Para-military/MEF joint Operation intensified in the area yesterday and today.
Prime Minister Bartholomew Ulufa'alu says his Government deplores the use of a patrol boat by the joint operation this morning to bombard IFM positions east of Honiara.
But in an exclusive interview with SIBC, Mr Ulufa'alu said there is nothing much his Government can do in the absence of a law enforcing body.
He however appeals to the two warring parties to refrain from any further activity that may further escalate the situation.
Prime Minister Ulufa'alu said Cabinet is yet to consider whether the Government should request overseas military assistance in the light of the current security crisis.
However, he said his Government is greatful for the positive response from friendly governments and organisations since the incident on Monday.
Mr Ulufa'alu calls for the maintenance and a strengthening of the Police Action Group to keep law and order in Honiara.
Australia has expressed deep concern at the use of the patrol boat Lata this morning to bombard the shoreline along the Tenaru area east of Honiara.
The paramilitary MEF operation took over the Lata from the patrol boat base this morning and started using its 55 millimetre calibre machine guns against members of the IFM east of Honiara.
Australian High Commissioner in Honiara, Dr Martin Sharp told SIBC that as the country who provided the patrol boat to Solomon Islands, Australia is "extremely concerned" that the boat should be used in this manner.
Dr Sharp said the patrol boats now belong to Solomon Islands but at the same time Australia is concerned that one of them should be used in such a way as this morning.
The Solomon Islands Council of Trade Unions urges the Australian and New Zealand Trade Unions NOT to impose trade sanctions against Solomon Islands.
President of the Association David Tuhanuku says the problem is being pursued through constitutional requirements and if sanctions are introduced, the country will suffer badly.
But Mr Tuhanuku adds that if the situation gets beyond the accepted norms of the international community and the trade unions, he may not be able to stop sanctions against Solomon Islands.
Mr Tuhanuku also appeals to the leaders of Malaita Eagle Force to be aware of the conditions of the unarmed people living in Honiara.
SIWA WATER SHORTAGE
The Solomon Islands Water Authority, SIWA, informs the public that the current water problem experienced in parts of Honiara is related to an electrical fault to one of the SIEA power lines to Kongulai.
The problem has been rectified and the water pumps at Kongulai, White-River are now in operation as of 12 midday today.
However, most of the SIWA customers will continue to have shortage of water for the next 12 hours.
SIWA is currently attending to a break to one of the nine mains running from Tasahe to Titingge and appeals to the public for patience.
A New Zealand frigate is on standby outside the Solomon Seas to evacuate Australian and New Zealand citizens in the country.
The ABC reported that evacuation will only be done on emergency situations.
About 700 Australians are in the country aside from the New Zealanders.
The overseas report said Australians are safer in Fiji than on Guadalcanal after heavy fighting erupted in the eastern and western ends of the capital yesterday.
But the Australian High Commission in Honiara says there are well developed contigency plans to evacuate their citizens should the situation deteriorate to a situation where they come under direct threat.
Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister John Howard has said Australian troops will not to be sent to the country when requested by the Solomons government because they could face physical danger while unarmed.
NAZARETH APOSTOLIC CENTRE
A number of bullets fired during today's exchange of fire around the Tenaru area, east of Honiara have landed at the Nazareth Apostolic Centre.
But Father Bernard O'Donnel says nobody was injured at the centre.
He says a number of centre staff and farm workers are still residing around the area.
And Father O'dornel says it is not safe to move in and evacuate the staff and workers at this stage.
Meanwhile, overseas reports of casualties in today's shootout could not be confirmed locally.
The Red Cross society, which normally move around the warring parties had not been able to verify the reported figures.
Peter Kakai of the society says Red Cropss officers were not able to reach the area of fighting because of dangers posed by cross fires.
TAIWAN NAVY UPDATE
The three warships from Taiwan will still arrive Thursday despite the political uncertainty in the capital Honiara.
A statement from the Taiwanese Embassy in Honiara says because of the unexpected circumstances in Honiara courtesy calls, the marine performance and the various functions on board the vessels have all been cancelled.
But the embassy says the squadron will be here to re-fill and unload relief donations for the Red Cross in Solomon Islands.
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