RAMSI flying in more police for Solomons elections
Solomon Islands Police beef up security ahead of Solomons Elections.
The Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands is to fly in officers from participating countries to bolster security operations for the elections on November the 19th.
The Solomon Islands police commissioner, Frank Prendergast, says an additional 90 police will join the 150 police personnel currently with RAMSI.
He told Koroi Hawkins about the security preparations police are making for the elections.
FRANK PRENDERGAST: Preparations are proceeding well, we are working closely with RAMSI who are providing a lot of support but the RSIPF has a very, very detailed operational plan and we are just in the process of executing that. So clearly the elections are less than two weeks away so they are looming very close. What we have been doing in the last few weeks is high visibility operations in the major urban centres including Honiara, just dealing with issues such as anti-social behaviour, alcohol related crime those type of issues. We have also been doing a lot of community engagement, both here in Honiara and Guadalcanal as well as the provinces, where we have had not only our provincial police and the provincial police commanders out in the community but we have sent quite senior officers around those provinces meeting with community leaders and talking to them about the election and police expectations around behaviour for the elections. So with that we think we've prepared quite well and next week we will start sending some officers from Honiara to support our Provincial Police Commanders, for the election day and counting, securing the ballot boxes and all that kind of thing. Those officers will then come back to Honiara for the formation of government phase. To support that we have written to government asking for an alcohol ban around the election day and counting days which I think is very important and we are confident that will be in place so that will give us some extra assurance.
KOROI HAWKINS: Will RAMSI, (Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands), be sending any additional support in terms of personnel for the elections?
FP: Yes they are, as I said we have been working very closely with RAMSI albeit for this election the RSIPF, the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force is the lead agency and they are bringing in some additional support for the elections I think the number is in the order of 90 additional officers, which will be very welcome. And they'll work in roles supporting the RSIPF through the election period.
KH: What about the capabilities of the RSIPF is their any new equipment that is being allowed to be used during this, I understand there were talks of rearmament and certain aspects for the Response Team, is that coming into action?
FP: The rearmament process is an ongoing process it won't be occurring before the election, indeed it was never intended to. But that's looking at the longer term needs of the RSIPF. It's a limited rearmament that's being considered and that will, that will still require a further decision for government. In terms of the RSIPF's capabilities, we've developed some very good capabilities over the last ten years. One of those is our public disorder capabilities with the Public order response teams and they do have access to less than lethal munitions which they use in a very controlled manner and in accordance with world best standards. So those capabilities exist, we are hoping we don't need them and indeed I'm, I'm, all our preparations is being designed around ensuring that we don't need to use those capabilities, but if we do need them, as a last resort they are there, yes.
KH: Just checking, the dates I have are the twelfth for the start of operations and the numbers about a hundred and eighty officers that will be deployed to the provinces?
FP: Um, those figures are about right although our pre-election operations have already started and indeed have been going on for the last few weeks so everything we are doing at the moment is designed to assist in ensuring a peaceful elections. We are also running things like our safe boats program which we normally run in the lead up to Christmas with people going home, making sure that they travel safely. But given the fact that people will be leaving Honiara to travel back to their home constituencies to vote we are bringing that into play as well so there is quite a range of operational activity already underway.
KH: Any security concerns, there was some talk a couple of, probably a month back now of groups that were intending to intentionally disrupt the elections?
FP: Look, we have obviously through our community engagements and through our intelligence activities been very closely monitoring the situation. We are confident that by working with the community we will have a safe election. That's not to say that we don't get information from time to time about issues, but we respond to that as we get them, and you know, my best assessment is that we'll have a peaceful election and we are confident if the community works with us that will be the outcome.
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