Image: Jimmy Rasta, leader of the Malaita Eagle Force militia, in Solomon Islands, July 2003.
The former chair of the Solomon Island Peace Taskforce has hit out at what he calls secretive and poorly planned government payments of ex-combatants.
The government last month announced that it has started rehabilitation payments to ex-Malaita Eagle Force Militants to honour commitments made in the 2000 Townsville Peace Agreement.
But Sir Paul Tovua, who was in charge of overseeing the agreement, said the Christmas Eve announcement came as a surprise.
He said the fact that only some groups have been paid has angered others—namely the Guadalcanal Isatabu Freedom Movement – and sets a precedent that all former militants will be paid.
Sir Paul said the payout should have been announced after negotiations with all groups.
The payment sum of US$375,000 by the Solomon Islands Ministry of National Unity Reconciliation and Peace, to an association representing ex-militants, will not be accessible to its members as cash payouts.
Secretary for the Ministry, Justus Dinn, said the money is to go towards vocational and educational training, and counseling services to help ex-combatants reintegrate into their communities.
Source: Radio New Zealand International