Harold Keke

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Harold Keke
Harold Keke.jpg
Harold Keke in a hut on the Solomon Islands, 2003
Born 1971
Allegiance Guadalcanal Revolutionary Army
Service/branch Militia
Rank General

Harold Keke (born 1971) is a Solomon Islands warlord involved with the Guadalcanal Revolutionary Army (GRA).

Biography[edit]

The grandson of one of the founders of the South Seas Evangelical Church in Australia,[1] Keke was raised a Catholic in the Solomons,[2] but left the faith to become a petty criminal in Papua New Guinea. After a number of years, he returned home, where he took work as a police officer,[3] and embraced evangelical Christianity.[1]

During the 1990s, tensions flared up between indigenous inhabitants of Guadalcanal and immigrants from neighboring Malaita. Following the election of Bartholomew Ulufa'alu, militants, including those led by a newly radicalized Keke, began a campaign of intimidation and violence against Malaitan settlers. This, including Keke's 1998 raid of a police armory, led to the formation of the Malaita Eagle Force (MEF) and all out ethnic warfare in the islands.[citation needed]

Keke views himself as a prophet, leading his people to their "promised land". He also claims that he had political backing for the start of the conflict from then-premier Ezekiel Alebua — who provided money, weapons, and ammunition for the GRA. This claim has been denied by Alebua, who calls Keke "little more than a violent thug".[1]

During the ensuing conflict, the MEF gained the upper hand, deposing the government and gaining control of most police forces; making them a de facto extension of the militias. Many of the militias opposed to the MEF struck a peace deal in late 2000, but Keke refused to sign, moving his soldiers into the jungles of the Weather Coast to avoid capture.[1]

The GRA, under Keke's leadership, has been accused of a variety of crimes, including arson, kidnapping, assassination, and murder. Keke has been personally implicated in more than 50 murders,[4] including that of cabinet minister and priest Augustine Geve,[5] as well as seven missionaries from the Melanesian Brotherhood.[6]

In late 2003, following the arrival of a multi-national intervention force led by Australia, Keke called for a cease-fire, and surrendered to peace-keepers.[7] In 2005, he was convicted of the murder of Geve, and sentenced to life in prison.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d O'Shea, David (2003-07-03). "Harold Keke - Rebel or Raskol". Dateline. Retrieved 2007-07-07. 
  2. ^ Skehan, Craig (2003-07-26). "Gun in one hand, Bible in the other". The Age. Retrieved 2007-07-07. 
  3. ^ "Profile: Harold Keke". BBC News. 2005-03-18. Retrieved 2007-07-07. 
  4. ^ "Solomons warlord Keke in custody of Australians". Associated Press. 2003-08-14. Retrieved 2007-07-07. 
  5. ^ "Cabinet minister shot dead". ONE News. 2002-08-24. Retrieved 2007-07-07. 
  6. ^ "Funeral of the seven martyred Melanesian Brothers". Anglican Communion News Service. 2003-11-07. Retrieved 2008-05-11. 
  7. ^ "Solomons warlord surrenders". BBC News. 2003-08-13. Retrieved 2007-07-07.