Govt assures RAMSI of support for drawdown

The Solomon Islands Government has assured the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) of its cooperation and support as dialogue progresses on the Mission’s drawdown towards a final exit in mid-2017.

The assurance was given to the new RAMSI Special Coordinator, Quinton Devlin, by the Minister of Police, National Security and Correctional Services, Hon. Stanley Sofu, MP, during an official welcome function for Mr Devlin in Honiara on 15 December.

In officially welcoming the new Special Coordinator, Minister Sofu said: “I would like to assure the RAMSI Special Coordinator, that the Government will do its utmost to make the Drawdown Strategy and programs, relevant, realistic and affordable for Government … and that they address critical components – of law and order, justice and peace, economic growth and prosperity, which ultimately reflect the underlying purpose for which the entire RAMSI program was agreed on between the Government and Regional Partners.”

“The question of what happens after RAMSI leaves is a question every one of us must find answers to; we should not rely only on government and certain organizations and people … All of us have a responsibility to help RAMSI and the Government and all stakeholders – churches, chiefs, leaders, youths, women, and men and boys – should work towards ensuring our country will continue to prosper and be peaceful and secure, even after RAMSI leaves in 2017,” said Mr Sofu.

In his first official speech since taking over as RAMSI Special Coordinator on 7 December, Mr Quinton Devlin said since his arrival in Honiara he has received a very warm welcome from the people of the Solomon Islands – from the Governor-General, Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers, senior government officials, the diplomatic corps and the many supporters of RAMSI.

“Since my arrival, several clear messages have emerged. These include: the support of RAMSI to the Solomon Islands has been highly appreciated over the past 12 years; the Solomon Islands Government and RAMSI have been working very well, very collaboratively and very closely together; and while much progress has been made, there is still a considerable work to be done,” Mr Devlin said.

“As RAMSI Special Coordinator, I am looking forward to working very closely with the Government, Parliament and the community to support the priorities and plans of Solomon Islanders – particularly as the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) moves towards assuming full responsibility for policing, and as the RSIPF continues on its path towards becoming an independent, modern and accountable force focused on crime prevention and community policing.”

This will entail continued RAMSI support for the rearmament process and ongoing capacity building and mentoring by the RAMSI Participating Police Force.

“Some of RAMSI’s top priorities include supporting the development of strong leadership at all levels of the RSIPF and supporting government efforts to ensure the RSIPF is properly resourced. Leadership and funding will be critical to sustaining the gains made to date,” RAMSI Special Coordinator Devlin said.

He added, “RAMSI will also continue to regularly consult the Solomon Islands Government and the 15 Pacific Islands Forum nations that contribute to the RAMSI Mission on the continued drawdown of RAMSI, which began in 2013, and is scheduled to conclude in mid-2017. A key part of that role will be to support dialogue between the Solomon Islands Government and countries such as Australia and New Zealand on what might follow RAMSI beyond the scheduled mid-2017 exit date.”

“For me, the regional nature of the RAMSI mission is one of its key strengths and one of the main reasons why the Mission has been so successful thus far. Requested by the Solomon Islands and mandated by Pacific Islands Forum, RAMSI has been here from Day One fo helpem fren; and this is exactly what we plan to do until the very last day of the mission,” said Mr Devlin.

In his speech, the new RAMSI Special Coordinator also paid tribute to the many great women and men that have come before him, especially to the recently departed Special Coordinator, Ms Justine Brathwaite, and the former Commander of the RAMSI Participating Police Force, Commander Greg Harrigan, who left on 15 December.

Mr Devlin also introduced and welcomed the new Participating Police Force Commander, Commander Mark Ney, who he said is an experienced senior AFP officer that will bring a lot of energy and drive to the job.