Solomon Islands cabinet appoints local Police Commissioner
A new police commissioner is appointed in Solomon Islands who is not the first choice of the country's Police services Commission.
The Solomon Islands government's desire to see the country's top police post held by a local has trumped a recommendation by the Police Service Commission.
The cabinet has appointed Peter Aoranisaka, who hails from Marau on Guadalcanal, as the new Police Commissioner, even though he was only third choice on the Commission's recommended short list of five.
Number one on the list was the former Commissioner and Briton Frank Short.
Mr Aoranisaka replaces another Englishman, John Lansley, whose contract as Commissioner ended in May.
Johnny Blades asked our correspondent Dorothy Wickham about the new Commissioner.
DOROTHY WICKHAM: He holds respect with other ethnic groupings within the police force. I think he's also respected outside of the police force. Whether he's a good strategy man, administration man, I've... As a journalist, I've personally known Peter for a while as an operational man, a very good operational commissioner. But the choice is obvious because of the fact he's one of the senior ones left in the police force. You could say he's clean, he doesn't have any bad hang-ups coming along with him. That doesn't say that he hasn't had slip-ups, but in terms of the ethnic crisis I think he has a clean record. So people feel comfortable with him holding a post like that.
JOHNNY BLADES: And what about his ability to manage the various factions and various divergent interests within the force?
DW: I think he can do that, because he's worked around the country, and he's also held various postings around the country. I don't think he'll have a problem with that.
JB: And the fact that he's not an expat will be seen by some people as a good thing, too.
DW: You know what it's like here. Johnny, you've been here. You know it's going to have its good and its bad, as well. A lot of people are going to think because he's a Solomon Islander he won't be unbiased. And then some people will think it's a good thing he's a local because then he understands the local situation. So there's going to be both sides of thinking at the moment, from everybody.
JB: Local media reported that there were some bitter divisions over this appointment within the cabinet.
DW: Well, as you know, politicians always have some finger in the way a police commissioner is appointed and whether they agree with him or not, that would be something else. The police commission has to move forward and appoint whoever it is based on the recommendations. They recommend who they think is best for the post, and then the cabinet endorses that recommendation and has the appointment formally done.
JB: In this case they didn't actually appoint the one who was formally recommended the most by the commission, which was Frank Short.
DW: As you know, too, there's also this feeling within our political leadership that we should now localise the police commissioner role. I think that's the reason why this has come about. And there's also a strong feeling that we should localise now, especially with RAMSI's withdrawal, we should start localising the head of the police force.
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