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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

RAMSI committed to maintain partnership that respects the sovereignty of Solomon Islands

By Anne McCaig

Special Coordinator of the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands, Tim George, has reinforced the commitment of the 15 countries of the Mission to building on a long-term partnership that is sensitive to the needs and sovereignty of the Solomon Islands.

In an interview for SIBC’s “Talking Truth” on Sunday, Mr George told interviewer Dorothy Wickam that 2006 had been a challenging year, but much had been achieved.

When RAMSI first arrived in 2003, the focus had been on the restoration of law and order and the stabilization of finances. “These were achieved quickly and for some time now a major ingredient of RAMSI’s work has been in building the capacity of the institutions of government in three key areas: economic governance, law and justice and the machinery of government.”

Mr George said it was a long-term process, and there was much hard work to be done, but progress had been good in 2006, and he looked forward to building on this in 2007.

Mr George told Ms Wickam that he looked forward to the RAMSI review process which was agreed to by Pacific leaders at the last October Pacific Islands Forum in Fiji.

“We’re very happy to work closely with the Forum and the Solomon Islands Government in that review. It’s an important process, and we believe that is the appropriate way for RAMSI to be reviewed.” Mr George said that, while no date had been set, he expected the review to take place relatively early in the New Year.

“We are very conscious of the fact that RAMSI is a partnership. We want the most constructive relationship possible with the government and we do believe that the Regional Assistance Mission is a very accountable, transparent organization”, he said.

“We are very pleased to do anything we can in terms of dialogue and explanation to further that, and that’s something I’ve emphasised to the Prime Minister, the Hon Manasseh Sogavare, in my meetings with him.”

“I believe that successful work by RAMSI will enhance the sovereignty of the Solomon Islands. To the extent that the work of RAMSI, in partnership with the Solomon Islands Government, strengthens the institutions of this country, in law and justice, economic governance and growth, and the machinery of government – then I believe this is enhancing the sovereignty of the Solomon Islands”, he said.

Asked about the current situation surrounding the Australian-funded Commissioner of the Solomon Islands Police Force (SIPF), Mr George declined to comment on the circumstances of the case, noting that it was not a RAMSI position.

“I will note however the good work done by Commissioner Castles as reflected by the statement made by the executive of the SIPF, in particular the very good work he has done here in strengthening the police force and in fighting corruption.”

Source: RAMSI

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