7 Jul 2003

Solomons officials confirm ceasefire signed by rebel leader, Harold Keke

6:48 am on 7 July 2003

Solomon Island officials have confirmed that the warlord, Harold Keke has signed a ceasefire agreement ahead of the arrival of an Australian led intervention force.

A document signed by Keke says the Guadalcanal Liberation front unilaterally declares a ceasefire on Guadalcanal Island.

Keke has also released four hostages from the Church of Melanesia as a so-called goodwill gesture.

But he is still holding three other brothers who belong to the religious order.

The ceasefire and the hostage release were negotiated by the government's special Weathercoast envoy, Yukio Sato.

But Mr Sato said Keke had vowed to retaliate if attacked by the intervention force.

Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Sir Allan Kemakeza, says he's received a copy of the agreement by fax but wants a full report before Cabinet will consider the matter.

He says if the document is genuine, then it would be legally binding on Keke and his followers, who have been accused of rape, torture and murder.