21 Sep 2007

Pacific Islanders insulted by Solomons PM's camouflage comment

5:19 am on 21 September 2007

Pacific Islanders serving in RAMSI say they have been deeply distressed by the Solomon Islands Prime Minister's recent comments about the mission

Speaking in last month's adjournment debate, Manasseh Sogavare accused Australia of having a 'recolonisation' agenda in Solomon Islands.

He questioned whether the intervention in Solomon Islands is genuine and accused RAMSI of dragging other Pacific Island countries in to camouflage this agenda.

RAMSI's Assistant Special Coordinator, Mataiasi Lomaloma, says the hundreds of Pacific Islanders who have served in the mission were proud to be part of RAMSI.

He says they could not understand why the Prime Minister would want to dismiss their contributions as 'camouflage' for Australian foreign policy initiatives.

Mr Lomaloma says Pacific Island nations are sovereign states just like Solomon Islands with leaders capable of making their own foreign policy decisions.

He says that the men and women of RAMSI who had left behind their island homes and families to serve in the mission deserved better than this.