3 August 2003

Keke says he's become the fall guy for the Solomons Prime Minister:
HAROLD KEKE (Translation): Australia gives him money for aid to help the government, but instead the leaders themselves steal the money, then they lie to get more money so they can catch Harold Keke and so on. And then they say that Harold Keke is a thief and so on, and then they ask for money for help. So they just use my name, Harold Keke, to make money.

Even the police commissioner admits there are bigger fish to fry than Harold Keke.

[Solomons Police Commissioner] WILLIAM MORRELL: He is - to some extent he is just one element of the problems within the Solomon Islands and he is not the main element. The main element is the endemic corruption in the country and therefore government isn't functioning at all.

The intervention force needs to recognise that the ordinary people of Guadalcanal may not all support Harold Keke, but they clearly share his aspirations.

GUADALCANAL CITIZEN (Translation): People have lost confidence in the government, the government should be trusted to help us, but they failed us and people have lost trust in the government and the police. So they have given their support to the man in the bush, Harold Keke.

ARILEGO (Translation): Everyone wants a state government under which we own our country, our land, our rivers, our reefs, our fish and everything else. These are the resources of the Guadalcanal people, because Guadalcanal Island belongs to its people. It doesn%u2019t belong to any others, like the Malaitans or the Western Province, or whatever provinces.

This is in fact Harold Keke's message for John Howard.

HAROLD KEKE (Translation): But for now I want to tell you Howard, we are fighting for our rights, because we don't want the government to steal our land and resources because these are the root causes of the war. So please Howard, look at the law before you accept the request by Kemakeza to apprehend me and my boys who are standing for their right to the land on which we stand and fight. "

The real test for the Solomons intervention is whether excluded groups can be brought into the Solomons political process. Merely re-establishing order is necessary, but then there needs to be a major effort at reconciliation. Perhaps it would have been a better idea to support restoration of the Ulufa'alu government in 2000 rather than spending $150 million trying to make the Townsville Peace Agreement work without including Keke.

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