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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

SI Police and National Security Minister says re-armament is part of gov't policy

By Deli Oso-PM Press Secretary

The Solomon Islands Minister for Police and National Security, Hon Isaac Inoke said the government’s rearmament programme will be beneficial to the entire nation and not only politicians.

Mr Inoke was responding to statements by critics claiming that the programme will only benefit a handful of politicians. He said it was a government policy to arm the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force and the rearmament programme was in line with that policy.

The minister said the government under the constitution had the sovereign right to arm its police force just like any other country in the world and affirmed and the rearmament programme would be implemented in accordance to police protocols.

Mr Inoke said the three units of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force that were disarmed and phased out by the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands under three weapons-free Solomon Islands campaign would be rearmed and they are the Protection and Guarding Unit (PGU), Rapid Response Unit (RRU) and the Police Field Force (PFF). The weapons-free campaign conducted by RAMSI during the aftermath of the civil unrest was aimed at retrieving all the guns that were illegally obtained during the ethnic tension.

The PGU is responsible for protecting and guarding the Prime Minister as well as politicians whose lives are under threat whilst the RRU and PFF play a collaborative vital role in maintaining internal and national peace and security.

The Minister said provision for the armed protection of national leaders was provided for under the Constitution of Solomon Islands, and it was therefore imperative that leaders were provided with ample security.

“The disarmament programme by RAMSI is important to restore law and order and rebuild the RSIP following the ethnic tension but the time has come for Solomon Islands to move on and thus take charge of its security issues. Rearming the RSIPF is part of confidence building. The RSIP should regain control of its duty to bring about law and order in the country. Arming officers is part of police duties and confidence building,” the Police and National Security Minister said.

The Minister for Police and National Security said the episode of the 2006 Honiara riot emphasised the need for rearmament of the PGU, RRU and PFF.

“The RRU would have played an important role in quelling the riot last year had it not been disarmed. Our sole reliance on RAMSI and Participating Police Force (PPF) to quell unforeseen civil unrest has proven defective and left a lot to be desired,” Mr Inoke said.

Source: GCU

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