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thedrifter
04-19-06, 09:02 AM
Solomons burn in latest wave of unrest
April 19, 2006 - 3:49PM

A chronology of historical events in the Solomon Islands leading up to the latest unrest:

1942 - Japanese invade, US Marines land on Guadalcanal (at site of present-day capital, Honiara) to repel them, starting wholesale import of clan people from Malaita Island as porters and war workers.

1945 - British return to their colony.

1978 - Solomon Islands attain independence as a constitutional monarchy but experience instability in government because of unfamiliarity with Western party system.

1993-1998 - Guadalcanal Revolutionary Army (GRA) springs from ethnic clans to support pro-secession rebels on the neighbouring Papua New Guinea island of Bougainville, with whom they share kinship ties.

1999 - GRA changes its name to Isatabu Freedom Movement (IFM) with the avowed aim of reclaiming their Guadalcanal land from Malaitan settlers.

1999-2000 - IFM harass Malaitans. About 40 people, mainly Malaitans, killed or disappear in sporadic fighting and Malaitan militants form the Malaita Eagle Force (MEF). About 20,000 people made refugees. Twelve Fiji police posted to Honiara to monitor a truce.

June 2000 - attempted coup in which MEF militants arrest Prime Minister Ulufa'alu. Australian warships evacuate 480 foreign nationals. Foreign Minister Alexander Downer visits Honiara for talks but stresses that Australian intervention would not be considered until the Solomons had attempted to sort out its own problems first.

August 2000 - Militant groups announce ceasefire.

October 2000 - Militants sign ceasefire after Australian-hosted peace talks in Townsville.

November 2000 - Australia, New Zealand announce deployment of 50-strong peace monitoring group. Downer announces $8.5-million aid package.

December 2001 - Sir Allan Kemakeza elected prime minister. Strife continues.

June 2002 - Peace monitoring team withdraws.

April 2003 - Kemakeza writes to Prime Minister John Howard seeking urgent Australian assistance to combat the ongoing crisis.

July 24, 2003 - Australian-led 2,225 strong Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) deploys. It includes 1,500 Australian Defence Force personnel, 155 Australian Federal Police and 90 from the Australian Protective Service, plus contingents from New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Papua New Guinea.

RAMSI is welcomed and the operation is an immediate success. Most troops brought home by end of year.

Australia launches major mission to improve governance, with aid funding of $840 million over four years from 2005-06.

December 22, 2004 - APS officer Adam Dunning shot dead in Honiara. 100 soldiers briefly deployed back to Solomons.

Ellie