15 Feb 2007

Solomon Islands Western Province threatens secession if police re-arm

3:01 pm on 15 February 2007

The provincial premier of Solomon Islands Western Province says his province will secede if the national government follows through on its plans to re-arm the police.

Alex Lokopio says the Western Province bore the brunt of the ethnic tension a few years ago and he believes there is a risk of trouble flaring once again if police are armed.

Mr Lokopio says the people have given the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands or RAMSI the mandate to ensure there are no more guns in the country.

He says although the threat to set up an independent state will not be popular with the national government, he has no choice but to go through with it.

"I have to say my disappointment and I cannot see any other way because I don't want to get my people involved again in this problem. We are always a victim of the current system of government."

The provincial premier of the Western Province, Alex Lokopio.