A joint force of 200 British marines and French paratroopers ended a two-month rebellion on the island of Espiritu Santo Thursday, paving the way for a peaceful transition to independence next week for the South Pacific archipelago of the new Hebrides.
British Resident Commissioner Andrew Stuart said the force landed unopposed at an airport near Luganville, Santo's main town.
Mr. Stuart said the operation was aimed at re-establishing the authority of the New Hebrides government on Santo so that it could negotiate a peaceful agreement with bow-and-arrow rebels led by local chief Jimmy Stevens, supported by French-speaking settlers.
The rebels seized control of Santo on May 28. They feared that the mainly French-speaking inhabitants of the island would fare badly when an English-speaking government led by the Rev. Walter Lini took power July 30.
In London, Peter Blaker, minister of state in the British Foreign Office, said the British and French troops will stay on Santo, perhaps even after independence next week to re-establish the authority of the central government.