The only way the country can achieve lasting peace is for the Democratic Coalition for Change (DCC) Government to settle the outstanding payments with the ex-combatants and their rehabilitation package.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare told this paper in an exclusive interview adding, the issue had been been long over due and the payment is important to settle the ex-combatants’ due once and for all.
He said, his Government will settle the payments for ex-militants from Malaita and Guadalcanal worth $300 million.
Mr Sogavare said, the payments was approved by Cabinet and the media must report it responsibly and it must be handled very carefully.
Mr Sogavare explained, the payment is partial payment toward their rehabilitation package which is being negotiated with both the defunct Malaita Eagle Force (MEF) and Isatabu Freedom Movement (IFM).
“This is a very important decision taken by the DCC Government that all previous Governments failed or afraid to tackle.
“We would like to settle this matter once and for all. It takes people like us in DCC Government to make such decision.”
He said the Ministry of National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace is now working on the rehabilitation package for the ex-combatants.
“Solomon Islands cannot and will not achieve lasting peace if DCC Government and future governments continue to ignore the outstanding payments for former combatants.
Deputy director of Malaita Peace and Reconciliation Office Francis Kairi in an interview commended the DCC Government for the move to stick to its commitment by settling the due with the ex-combatants.
Mr Kairi said, what these ex-combatants are asking for is first and foremost for the protection of Honiara city, state assets, and government properties and people from being hurt.
He added the second part of it which the nation was aware of it is the rehabilitation under Townsville Peace Agreement (TPA) signed signed by former ex-combatants of MEF and Isatabu Freedom Movement of Guadalcanal on 15 October 2000 in Townsville, Australia.
“The ex-combatants are now waiting for the rehabilitation properly which DCC Government is working on to settle it once and for all.”
By ELLIOT DAWEA