2 May 2006

New Zealand assures Solomon Islands of political neutrality

3:40 pm on 2 May 2006

New Zealand is moving to assure Solomon Islands that it is not attempting to influence the election of the prime minister, which takes place in two days time.

This follows a row after the publication of an email which reveals the Australian High Commissioner had complained about Snyder Rini who resigned as prime minister in the wake of riots.

The New Zealand Defence minister, Phil Goff, says it is not the business of the Regional Assistance Mission, or RAMSI, as to who is in government or who becomes prime minister.

He says the countries that make up RAMSI are entirely neutral with respect to the internal politics of Solomon Islands.

Mr Goff says he cannot guarantee that New Zealand diplomats have not written similar material but that is not the point.

"The requirement on diplomats is to report freely and frankly on their perception of what is happening. So, I can't give you the assurance that you've asked for. The assurance that I can give you, which is the important assurance, is that New Zealand and RAMSI, is not involved in trying to determine the outcome of the election to prime minister."

New Zealand's Defence Minister, Phil Goff.