26 Feb 2007

Solomon's PM abandons plans to rearm police

6:05 am on 26 February 2007

Solomon Island's Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare, says he has listened to the people and decided to reverse his planned re-arming of the police.

The proposal, which would have started with his close protection unit, prompted widespread condemnation from the parliamentary opposition and women's, church, trade union and business groups.

Mr Sogavare had alleged in parliament that Australian police officers providing protection at his residence were spying on his movements and his visitors.

The Prime Minister said he had taken up an offer for Papua New Guinea police serving with the Regional Assistance Mission to provide armed security for himself and the Governor General.

RAMSI's special coordinator, Tim George, has welcomed the move not to re-arm, which he said came after extremely robust debate.

The police were disarmed after the assistance mission arrived in mid-2003 to restore law and order, because the force had become embroiled in the ethnic tension.