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Australia supports new Solomon Islands peace body.



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MEDIA RELEASE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ALEXANDER DOWNER

FA156 24 October 2002

AUSTRALIA SUPPORTS NEW SOLOMON ISLANDS PEACE BODY

I am pleased to announce Australia's support for the newly formed Solomon Islands National Peace Council (NPC).

The establishment of the NPC is a further step towards restoring peace.

The NPC's role will be to implement a new range of reconciliation and national unity activities, as well as concluding some of the important work of the Solomon Islands Peace Monitoring Council (PMC).

The recent high-level mission to the Solomon Islands recommended support for a successor to the PMC as a key contribution to encouraging the ongoing peace process.

The PMC, established on 15 October 2000 under the Townsville Peace Agreement, was formally disbanded - exactly two years later - on 15 October. The same day, the Solomon Islands Prime Minister announced the establishment of the NPC.

The NPC will continue some of the successful PMC programs, such as weapons-free villages campaigns and mediation of disputes.

Over time, it is expected to adopt a program that will include activities in support of national unity and the rule of law, civic education and provision of advice to the Government. The PMC, and now the NPC, play a very valuable role in the indigenous peace and reconciliation process in Solomon Islands.

The Solomon Islands Government has appointed seven provisional Councillors to the NPC - all continuing from the PMC - for a transitional period of three months. The Councillors are all respected leaders, recognised by the community for their efforts to work for peace and to bring groups together.

Over the next three months Australia will provide the NPC with up to $300,000 to support the transition from the PMC to the NPC and the development of the structure and work program of the NPC. Australia will also provide a policy adviser to the NPC, continuing a position that provided support to the PMC.

Contacts: Chris Kenny (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500 or 0419 206 890 Jo Elsom (AusAID) 6206 4960 or 0412 804 489