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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Sir Michael Somare says RAMSI needs to maintain its regional character

The outgoing chairman of the Pacific Islands Forum and Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea Sir Michael Somare said the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) is a shining example of regional cooperation in security related matters.

RAMSI which was formed on the basis of the Forum’s Biketawa Declaration intervened to stop ethnic tensions and the subsequent period of serious law and order problems in Solomon Islands in 2003.

Speaking at the opening of the 37th Pacific Islands Forum Meeting in Fiji on monday, Sir Michael said RAMSI as a regional initiative must remain so in its composition and management.

However, recent developments involving the Solomon Islands government and Australia raises concerns on the future of RAMSI. Sir Michael said those developments raises questions about the regional character of the mission.

He was making reference to the Friday raid on Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare’s office in search of a fax machine suspected of transmitting a message allowing Julian Moti’s entry in Solomon Islands.

“Reports of the incident involving RAMSI personal in Honiara raise serious questions about its regional character and purpose. Actions of that nature undermine the usefulness and integrity of this important regional initiative,” Sir Michael said.

He said RAMSI offers Forum countries a chance to look at how we can improve regional cooperation in security matters.

“Security is not only about dealing with law and order activities but with ensuring our survival. The pursuit of sustainable economic growth and improving adaptation capacities are integral components of the security measures pursued through regional agencies,” he said.

Sir Michael is expected to handover the forum chair to Fiji’s Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase when the meeting concludes today.

Source: Government Communications Unit

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