15 Nov 2006

Solomon Islands High Commissioner to Australia takes up post next week

4:19 pm on 15 November 2006

The Solomon Islands new High Commissioner to Australia, Victor Ngele, is to take up his post in Canberra next week amid hopes he can help resolve the ongoing political tension between the two countries.

The prime minister, Manasseh Sogavare, has said he's disappointed Australia won't accept conditions in its pursuit of the suspended attorney-general, Julian Moti, and he's calling for greater Forum control over the Australian-dominated regional assistance mission, or RAMSI.

Mr Sogavare says a parallel regime is running in Solomon Islands with RAMSI taking directives from Canberra which needs to end.

The prime minister is also calling for the review of RAMSI to be undertaken by an independent body, like the Commonwealth Secretariat, not the Forum.

The secretary to the prime minister and cabinet, John Roughan, says relations are somewhat frosty but he believes the new high commissioner may be able to help out.

"Our man on the ground will take the temperature, and see what's happening, and who he should be speaking to, and lets, in a very Melanesian way, talk is essential to this process; bring back two who are basically friends."

The chairman of the Forum, Fiji's prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, is expected to visit Solomon Islands in early December to discuss the review of RAMSI.