Australia seeks permanent federal police in SI

AUSTRALIA is negotiating a security deal with Solomon Islands that would see a permanent federal police presence in the country.

Australian Federal Police arrive in Solomon Islands for elections in 2014. Photo: SBS News.

Australian Federal Police arrive in Solomon Islands for elections in 2014. Photo: SBS News.

The Australian-led, 15-nation RAMSI peacekeeping mission in the Solomons will end next June after 14-years in the Pacific island country.

“The end of RAMSI should be seen as a vote of confidence in the Solomon Islands,” Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells told the Australia Solomon Islands Business Forum in Brisbane, attended by Solomon Islands prime minister Manasseh Sogavare.

“While RAMSI might be leaving Solomon Islands next year, Australia is not going anywhere. In short prime minister, we are here to stay, to be with you and alongside you,” she said.

The Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) was deployed in 2003 to end a bloody conflict known as the “tensions”, that claimed hundreds of lives, and to disarm combatants.

An emergency assistance agreement between Australian and the Solomons in case of future civil unrest is also being prepared.

“While the details are still being finalized, it will almost certainly contain details of a contingent of Australian Federal Police, based in Honiara, under the umbrella of the Australian High Commission, working closely under the Solomon Islands police force counterparts,” Ms Fierravanti-Wells said.

“We have also commenced discussion about a mechanism that would allow Solomon Islands to seek emergency operational assistance from Australia, if an emergency arose in the future.”

An Australian-led military peace-keeping force made up of Pacific Island soldiers ended its role in the RAMSI mission in 2013.

A Lowy Institute report in 2014 calculated the decade of peacekeeping cost Australia $2.6b and the results achieved were at a ‘massive and disproportionate’ cost to Australia.

Source: SBS News.

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