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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

SI government urges Australia to clearly separate RAMSI and AusAid programmes

By George Herming

The Solomon Islands government has called on Australia to clearly separate programs of the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Island’s (RAMSI) from those of Canberra’s international aid agency, AusAID.

Foreign Affairs Minister Patterson Oti plainly made the statement at the start of the Pacific Islands Forum review talks between the Solomon’s government and RAMSI officials

A high-level review group from the Pacific’s largest political body, the Pacific Forum Secretariat is leading the talks following a request to Forum leaders at last year’s annual summit in Nadi Fiji.

Mr Oti said Australia sponsored the bulk of the intervention mission but that should not be jumbled with the AusAID bilateral assistance to Solomon Islands.

“We understand and acknowledge that Australia shoulders around 90 percent of RAMSI programs but RAMSI being a regional initiative should principally not be drawn into the bilateral relation between the two countries, which is very bad,” he said.

“There is need for a clear demarcation between RAMSI and AusAID programs,” Mr Oti said.

The Foreign Minister also called on the review team to reconsider a 2003 decision by Forum Leaders in Auckland that called on RAMSI to work within the bounds of the Solomon Islands constitution.

“The Pacific Island Forum Leaders at the 2003 Auckland Summit stated that RAMSI should work within the bounds of the Solomon Islands Constitution and respect its sovereignty,” he said.

He said Forum members should act to reinforce Solomon Islands sovereignty in accordance with its laws.

Source: GCU

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