Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare and his Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull have discussed the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) drawdown and a successor Australian policing arrangement with Solomon Islands.
The issue of RAMSI drawdown, including a new Australian policing arrangement with Solomon Islands for the post-RAMSI era was the main focus of the bilateral dialogue between the two Prime Ministers in New York yesterday, Tuesday 20th September, at the margin of the 71st United Nations General Assembly.
Whilst the full detail of the RAMSI successor arrangement will be unveiled in due course, the two Prime Ministers acknowledged that their two countries have very close connections and are keen to see that when the RAMSI drawdown concludes, Solomon Islands is fully prepared to competently take on the responsibilities assumed by the Australian-led Pacific Islands Forum intervention mission since its arrival in 2003.
The two Prime Ministers noted that security issues are central to what RAMSI is doing in Solomon Islands and on that note Prime Minister Turnbull reiterated Australia’s willingness to continue its policing engagement with Solomon Islands when the intervention mission leaves in 2017.
The two leaders also discussed the idea of maintaining an Australian as Commissioner of the Royal Solomon Islands Police for still sometime and noted with acknowledgement that the re-localisation of this post should be taken in light of Solomon Islands national peace process, particularly the DCC Government’s efforts in addressing the underlying issues of the ethnic tension.
Whilst Prime Minister Sogavare acknowledged that a number of Solomon Islanders are ready to take on the RSIP Commissioner post, he is mindful that any ultimate decision by the DCC Government should fully complement its comprehensive national peace policy, which seeks to fully address the issues that gave rise to the tension.
Prime Minister Sogavare told his Australian counterpart that the DCC Government’s national peace and apology programme which climaxed to the National Peace and Apology week in Honiara in July this year will be followed by a Reparation Programme.
He stated that the Reparation Programme would see a Reparation Bill taken to Parliament along with the Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on the ethnic tension to allow the House to deliberate on and decide how best to address the issues that gave rise to the uprising.
Prime Minister Sogavare further stated that by looking at the underlying issues of the tension, they are more developmental in nature, hence the policy intention of the DCC Government to decentralize development from Honiara to other parts of Solomon Islands and in turn provide economic and employment opportunities nationwide.
He also briefed Prime Minister Turnbull about the reforms the DCC Government is pursuing in line with its policy objectives to address the growing decline of the forest resources in the country and the issue of political instability.
The Australian Prime Minister in response acknowledged the policy efforts taken by Prime Minister Sogavare and his DCC Government in their bid to get the country forward.
The Australian Prime Minister also took the opportunity to invite his Solomon Islands counterpart to Australia for a state visit. This invitation was welcomed by Prime Minister Sogavare who described it as an indicator of the cordial relationship his government enjoys with the Australian Government under the abled leadership of Prime Minister Turnbull.
The dates for the state visit will be finalised by Honiara and Canberra in due course.
Source:PM Press Secretariat