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Friday, July 20, 2007

Solomons 2006 April riot report criticises police for unpreparedness

An interim report by the Solomon Islands commission of inquiry into last year's riots, released publicly yesterday has criticised the preparations of local and international Participating Police Force (PPF).

In April last year, rioters destroyed the centre of the capital city, Honiara, after Snyder Rini was announced as prime minister.

Eventual prime minister, Manasseh Sogavare, put the commission in place to find the reasons for the riot.

Pacific correspondent Campbell Cooney reports that in its first interim study, the commission of inquiry has found there were major gaps in how local and RAMSI police prepared for the announcment of the prime minister.

It says this was an event which, given the volatile nature of Melanesian politics, should have been recognised as a period of high risk.

It has found police had no plan to deal with potential unrest, and insufficient trained officers at the parliament, despite evidence some political groups were prepared to cause trouble if the prime minister elected by parliament was not their choice.

The commission has also disputed witness evidence that the violence and the destruction of the city's Chinatown area was spontaneous, and in response to concerns about the ethnic group's influence on politics.

Source: Radio Australia

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