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Chief criticises engagement of ex-militants in guns collection

OUTSPOKEN Chief of Burns Creek community in east Honiara, John Seth Iromea has lashed out at the government for using former militants to collect firearms in the government’s gun amnesty which ends on June 9.

Chief Iromea said Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare should disassociate himself from involving with ex-militants because they are the very people responsible for the civil crisis the country had gone through in the past.

Island Sun understands that the first group of around 90 ex-combatants in groups of seven left under cover of darkness on Thursday last week.

They boarded the patrol craft Auki from the Patrol Boat Base at Mbokona bound for the week-long exercise which is expected to be completed this week.

Each was reportedly paid around $3,000 for the week-long exercise, which takes place in 13 locations around Malaita province.

But, Chief Iromea says: “We do not need these people.”

The amnesty period should end by this Friday, since it started three weeks ago, May 21.

“How can you put the very people who are responsible for breaking in the armory, to collect back the guns?

“The Prime Minister, or the government for that matter must be very careful on who he is dealing with.

“What the community wants is that people who initiated and supported the tension from the very beginning must be arrested,” said Chief Iromea.

Police said the ex-militants’ mission is “to seek the voluntary surrender of illegal firearms”, eradicating the threat of guns and weapons from Solomon Islands.

Deputy Commissioner of Police told the Island Sun when asked last week that a similar programme would be undertaken on Guadalcanal, Honiara and Marau.

Mr Manelusi yesterday said the ex-militants are members of the Solomon Islands Post Conflict Rehabilitation and Restauration Association (SIPCRRA).

SIPCRA conducted this programme under the Joint Disarmament Reintegration Task Force Group (JDRTFG), he said.

Among other things, JDRTFG is tasked with “developing and implementing a strategy to engage those communities and individuals in the possession of firearms.

“It is a Solomon Islands Government (SIG) initiative designed to seek the voluntary surrender of illegal firearms from Solomon Island communities through advocacy, education and community engagement, which leads to the collection and destruction of the weapons,” he said.

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