22 May 2006

Solomon Islands to put forward conditions in review of RAMSI

3:16 pm on 22 May 2006

The Solomon Islands government is to put forward several conditions when it underakes an annual review of the operation of the Regional Assistance Mission, or RAMSI, in July.

The prime minister, Manasseh Sogavare, had called for an exit strategy to be in place for RAMSI following recent discusssions with the Australian and New Zealand foreign ministers.

But, he says that does not mean he wants RAMSI to leave the country until the job is done.

Mr Sogavare says the problem is that there needs to be a clear process of passing on the responsibilities so that Solomon Islanders can take over when RAMSI does go.

He says the RAMSI people in the Ministry of Finance and the police might be called advisers but they are actually making decisions that should be taken by Solomon Islanders.

Mr Sogavare says this needs to change.

"We would like it to happen immediately, in fact, because that has not been happening, you know, since RAMSI came in 2003. So, in terms of time frame, it needs to happen immediately and it's one of the serious conditions that we will be putting forward when it comes to reviewing the continual presence of RAMSI here in Solomon Islands."

Manasseh Sogavare.

Meanwile, the Solomon Islands Prime Minister has appointed his Minister of Foreign Affairs Patteson Oti as the acting Minister of Police and National Security and the Minister of Commerce Francis Billy Hilly is to be acting Minister of Tourism and Culture.

When Mr Sogavare named his Cabinet line up he controversially gave the posts to two MPs detained over the rioting last month in Honiara, Charles Dausabea and Nelson Ne'e.

They face charges of inciting the rioting and remain in custody.