Solomon Islands. According to
COUNTRYAAH, there was a violent continuation of last
year's ethnic conflict between residents of the main island
of Guadalcanal and immigrants from the densely populated
island of Malaita. In January, a group called the strength
of the Malay eagles (MEF) looted one of the police's weapons
stockpiles, and in the following months several casualties
of various kinds of violence were demanded.
The government lacked resources to curb the unrest, and
in June the MEF carried out an armed coup, when Prime
Minister Bartholomew Ulufa'alu was held captive for a few
days and forced to resign. The event was similar to the coup
carried out on Fiji two weeks earlier.
Struggles broke out between MEF and Isatabu's liberation
movement (IFM), which represented residents of Guadalcanal.
Thousands of people fled the capital Honiara.
After Australia-led negotiations between the warring and
between the political leaders of Guadalcanal and Malaita,
Parliament met at the end of June to elect a new prime
Opposition leader Manasseh Sogavare, from the People's
Progressive Party, was elected by a small majority. MEF was
accused of threatening some members of the government side
so that they did not dare to attend the vote. Sogavare
installed a new government, recognized by Australia and New
Zealand but whose legitimacy was questioned by its political
Following regular peace talks between MEF and IFM, the
two groups signed a peace agreement in Townsville,
Australia, in October. Observers from Australia and New
Zealand would oversee the disarmament of the militiamen, and
the agreement also provided a costly development plan for
the island of Malaita. Among other things, disputes over
land rights, however, remained to be negotiated. Two years
of violence had claimed at least 70 lives and forced at
least 20,000 Malays to leave Guadalcanal.