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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

RAMSI Protection of PM withdrawn upon Sogavare's direction

The Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Hon Manasseh Sogavare, in October last year directed the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) to withdraw the RAMSI police that provided protection for him.

RAMSI Special Coordinator Tim George today said the direction was included in an instruction from the Prime Minister to the Commissioner of the Solomon Islands Police Force in October of last year. This instruction was passed onto the Participating Police Force (PPF), who complied with it.

“The PPF police withdrew on 11 December last year, as directed by the Solomon Islands Prime Minister,” Mr George said.

“Since RAMSI’s arrival in 2003 the PPF had provided a unit professionally trained in personal protection for Solomon Islands Prime Ministers and dignitaries.

“The equipment used by this group was withdrawn three weeks ago following another letter from the Prime Minister on 7 January directing that PPF training for the CPP unit be discontinued. The letter also stated Solomon Islands Police Force members of the Close Personal Protection group would be trained in Taiwan as RAMSI had failed to provide adequate training.

“This was surprising because the PPF has provided comprehensive training with everything from driving and motorcade drills to operational planning, protocols and etiquette, threats, searching techniques and so forth.”

Mr George said that the Participating Police Force has been responsive to the needs of the Solomon Islands Police and many gains have been made.

He said that RAMSI remains ready and willing to discuss the Prime Minister’s security needs.

“I have offered to the Prime Minister and his staff a thorough threat assessment, and I said that RAMSI is willing to discuss ways that our experienced police and their resources could help,” Mr George said.

“This does not include re-arming the Solomon Islands Police Force. RAMSI has cautioned against re-arming the Solomon Islands Police Force at this time.”

Mr George said that he looked forward to receiving a response from the Prime Minister’s Office to RAMSI’s offer of continuing assistance.

Source: RAMSI

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