8 Jun 2004

RAMSI mission to Solomon Islands to be wound down by end of July

11:06 am on 8 June 2004

The New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil Goff has confirmed that as plans stand now the military component of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands will be wound down by the end of July.

This will be just a year after the initial deployment to restore law and order.

Our correspondent travelling with the foreign minister says the leader of RAMSI, Nick Warner, and Mr Goff both acknowledged the huge steps taken to restore law and order, and both say this may have been the easiest part of the intervention as the mission turns to the fight against corruption and to what Mr Warner describes as "nation building".

Our correspondent says criticism of RAMSI has now been raised in Parliament.

And the health minister, Benjamin Una, has expressed some concern over how decisions are made.

"I am asking who is running the country? How many cabinets do we have?"

Our correspondent reports that while Mr Goff says the troops will go next month, Mr Warner says RAMSI will stay on until its job is done.