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Last Updated: Friday, 25 July, 2003, 13:38 GMT 14:38 UK
Eyewitness: Policing the Solomons
By Eddie Sikua
Chief Superintendent, Royal Solomon Islands Police

It has been very challenging to work as a police officer in the Solomon Islands, because of all the trouble here.

For me, the deployment of the multinational intervention force is a chance to restore normality.

In the past few months, there has been an atmosphere of uncertainty in the capital Honiara.

Eddie Sikua and his son
Policing is a way of life for Eddie Sikua, seen here with his son
People cannot tell who the militants are, and they are afraid to speak out for fear of reprisals.

There has not been much open violence in the capital, but it is worse in the Weathercoast region, because of militant leaders like Harold Keke and his supporters.

I have friends there who have had to leave their homes because of the situation. People are still scared about what could happen next.

One of the main concerns facing the Solomons right now is the high level of government corruption.

Intimidation is a major issue. Government officials are sometimes harassed and forced to sign documents so that criminals can get what they want.

But some officials are also involved in corruption themselves, and are benefiting from what the criminals are doing.

I was in tears when I learnt that there had been a takeover, because I knew that the organisation I treasured so much had been taken over by people who did not know what policing meant
Eddie Sikua

Staff from the intervention force will be working with the finance ministry, so maybe they will be able to stop the high levels of corruption.

The arrival of the peacekeeping force has already had an effect on Honiara.

There are more people in the streets, and they have greater confidence and feel safer walking around.

I hope that with the deployment of the force, law and order will finally be restored on the islands, and the police can get back to their daily duties.

Lifetime career

Policing for me is an affair of the heart.

I was born on 10 October 1960, the third of six children, in Ngalitavethi village in the northern part of Guadalcanal island.

My father was a schoolteacher, who was strict and well-disciplined.

Having been groomed by my father, I was attracted by the discipline and smart appearance of the police force, and at the age of 19 I enlisted as a recruit.

In 2000 - when I was living in police quarters in Honiara - ethnic tension increased on Guadalcanal, and a coup took place on 5 June.

(The Malaitan Eagle Force, made up of migrants from Guadalcanal's neighbouring island Malaita, wrested control from the government.)

Australian soldiers
Most islanders are said to support the foreign intervention
I was in tears when I learnt that there had been a takeover, because I knew that the organisation I treasured so much had been taken over by people who did not know what policing meant.

Because I came from Guadalcanal, my movements were restricted and I became a target.

I had luckily sent my family to Makira island a month before the coup, but I myself was trapped.

In the days that followed, the militants were very close to finding out where I was hiding.

Fourteen days after the coup, I was assisted by some loyal police officers to leave Honiara.

It was done during the night, with great caution, as militants were everywhere and there were only a few people we could trust.

All I had was a backpack with a few clothes in it. The last thing I remember was when they placed me in the back of a pickup truck and put cardboard boxes over me.

When I woke up, I found myself in a cabin of a ship 10 miles east of Honiara.

I joined my wife and children a day later, and they shed tears of joy when they found me still alive.

This experience has not yet faded from my mind.

I hope the intervention force will bring a new chapter to policing in the Solomon Islands.

Many policemen and women here are dedicated to their work, and make sacrifices in the interests of the community they serve.

Police officers who have remained neutral and loyal during the last four years will then be able to perform their duties in accordance to the laws of the Solomon Islands.

When this happens, the status of Royal Solomons Police will be restored.






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