16 Jun 2005

Civil society leader in Solomons seeks long Ramsi presence

1:32 pm on 16 June 2005

A consultant to the Solomon Islands' civil society network says he wants to see the multi-national Regional Assistance Mission remain in the country for at least twenty years.

Ashley Wickham, a former head of the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation, who's spoken out often on civic issues, says Ramsi hasn't declared a date by which it will quit the Solomons.

Mr Wickham says this is just as well, as the future beyond Ramsi is uncertain.

"Some of us, and I have made this proposition, that we need a Ramsi presence for, you know, more than 20 years, almost a generation, because it takes a long time to change the mindset that's developed over many years here."

Mr Wickham wants to see boosted public debate on the plan to privatise many Solomons' government businesses.

He says potential buyers would want to make a sizeable profit before Ramsi leaves.