21 Aug 2003

Solomons government minister surrenders weapons as amnesty ends

4:52 pm on 21 August 2003

A Solomon Islands cabinet minister, who last year said he had no guns, has handed in eight weapons and thousands of rounds ammunition.

It comes as the three week amnesty instituted by the Australian led intervention force, enters its last hours.

The amnesty will finish at midnight tonight with nearly three thousand weapons collected.

The Culture and Tourism Minister, Alex Bartlett, who was also a leader of the former Malaita Eagle Force militia, gave his guns to the National Peace Council yesterday.

Last year, politicians were called on to sign a pledge they did not have guns, but Mr Bartlett said while he did not have guns he would not sign.

And he said at that time he knew of no politician with a gun and he urged people to report any such illegal possession to police.

Mr Bartlett also said claims by former Prime Minister Bartholomew Ulufa'alu that many parliamentarians, including cabinet ministers, had guns illegally was unhealthy for the country's image.