BY SAMIE WAIKORI
MEMBERS of the public in Auki have demanded the immediate departure of the patrol boat from Auki wharf by 6pm yesterday evening.
The demand was raised during a meeting at Auki held between the commanding officer leading the operation to Auki, Lesley Kili, Acting PPC Malaita, Eddie Koto and Auki Operation Manager, Michael Ramosaea and members of the public.
The people expressed fear stating the presence of the boat and an operation team in Auki continues to cause fear to the public, especially on women and children.
They said people have mixed-reactions about the operation with rumors of lethal weapons on board causing women to stop coming to the Auki market to do their businesses.
They also raised that the failure to clarify the intentions of the operation gives people differing views on the intentions of the team in Auki.
They say there is an ongoing political tag of war between the National government and the Malaita Provincial Government, and the arrival and presence of the team in Auki is a provoking act to them and their government.
People went as far as asking the police whether their coming is politically motivated and that they want an explanation.
They said there is no chaos in Auki as they continue to support the Auki police maintain law and order.
They then demanded an immediate departure of the patrol boat and the Honiara team by 6pm yesterday.
Responding to the demand, Commander Kili said he values the demand raised and will consult with colleague officers on the ground and the Police Commander on the matter.
He said as long as decisions are made, he will also consult the premier and the message will be conveyed to the public of Malaita in Auki.
“I am the commander of the operation currently in Auki and at any time I could call off the operation as long as I see it fit,” Kili said.
He explained that the operation is not concerned with arrests or threats of people with guns as rumors have suggested.
“We are only here to maintain law and order after an incident in Auki last Thursday.
Kili further adds that the patrol boat and police are owned by the government and the government is owned by the people.
He said their coming is purposely to protect people and properties and to ensure the people enjoy peace and normalcy to go about their daily activities.
He however, said they will only listen and act according to the demands raised; as it will set a bad precedence for future assistance and that is what people must understand.
By 7pm last night, Patrol Boat Taro is still berthing at Auki wharf.