Members of provincial assemblies across Solomon Islands have commended the work of the 15 member countries of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) in returning law and order to the country and reviving the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) to a point where it is now considered one of the best police forces in the Pacific Islands region.
Throughout the month of March, teams comprised of senior officials from the Solomon Islands Government, RSIPF and RAMSI have been briefing Provincial Assemblies on the Mission’s exit plans and their confidence in the ability of the RSIPF to resume full responsibility for security when RAMSI departs on 30 June this year. They also confirm that the national government is finalising bilateral police assistance programs with Australia and New Zealand, and a security treaty that would allow Solomon Islands to request assistance from Australia or an Australia-led group of countries in an emergency.
To date, the teams have briefed the full Provincial Assemblies of Guadalcanal, Central, Isabel, Temotu and Choiseul Provinces, and they plan to visit the remaining provincial capitals before the end of April. This follows consultations with the National Parliament and Honiara City Council earlier in the year.
The response has been very positive and warm. The comments made by Central Province Premier Patrick Vasuni, for example, are indicative of the outpouring of gratitude and expressions of thanks.
At a brief farewell ceremony on 17 March in Tulagi, Premier Vasuni paid tribute to RAMSI and said that all Solomon Islanders are indebted to the RAMSI contributing countries.
“The current generation of Solomon Islanders are very much indebted to all member countries of RAMSI. Your time with us cannot be repaid in full. Your arrival into Solomon Islands in 2003 was indeed welcome news for all of us as the capital Honiara had experienced a break down in law and order and our provincial seas seemed like a battle front as criminal elements took over in the absence of any law enforcement agency,” he said.
Premier Vasuni explained: “It was the intervention by RAMSI that saved Solomon Islands and Central Province from going into anarchy. Central Province has also benefitted through previous and current RAMSI programs, including the construction of the soon-to-be-opened Tulagi Police Station.”
“I wish to remember the few RAMSI personnel who lost their lives whilst serving in Solomon Islands. I salute them and their families. Words cannot express my sincere thanks and may God richly comfort the families of all RAMSI personnel for sending their sons, daughters, mothers and fathers to help us.”
In a similar fashion, Choiseul Province Premier Hon. Jackson Kiloe said this week that: “We have benefitted greatly from RAMSI. What you see around Taro is as a result of RAMSI. RAMSI is leaving. They have assisted in restoring peace. Sustaining that peace is now upon all Solomon Islanders, and we must not take that responsibility lightly. Without peace, there is no positive development. It is going to be a huge challenge going forward, but rather than looking to outsiders to continue on saving us, we need to look within ourselves. The role played by our traditional leadership and churches in maintaining peace and order in all our communities must be supported and recognised.”
RAMSI Special Coordinator, Quinton Devlin, attributes the success of the Mission over the past 14 years to the partnership between RAMSI and the national and provincial governments, community and church leaders, women and youth groups, and the citizens of Solomon Islands.
“RAMSI could not have achieved by itself the enormous progress. It was clearly the result of the hard work and commitment to peace and stability of local politicians, government officials, community leaders and ordinary Solomon Islanders who wanted this country to move beyond the dark years of the social unrest and forge a brighter future for themselves and their children,” said Mr Devlin.
“In this context I urge national, provincial and community leaders throughout Solomon Islands to support and work with the RSIPF to continue to prevent crime and maintain law and order in the country after RAMSI concludes.”