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Friday, October 26, 2007

Solomon Government appreciates Forum position on RAMSI review

By Deli Oso, Press secretary to the PM

The Pacific Islands forum has taken note of the intention of the Solomon Islands government to review the Facilitation of the International Assistance Act which legalises the operation of the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands and New Zealand has offered to assist in the review task.

Foreign Affairs Minister Patterson Oti who led the Solomon Islands delegation to the recent 30th summit of the forum leaders in the Kingdom of Tonga revealed this in a Press Conference on Wednesday afternoon.

Mr Oti said the forum leaders took note of the intention of the review as the power to do so fell within the prerogative of the Solomon Islands parliament and government.

“The Solomon Islands government appreciates the position of the forum on the review and that for Solomon Islands is a way forward that the forum had taken note of its intention to review that Act.”

The Foreign Minister said he had a constructive dialogue with the New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark on the RAMSI review in which she promised her country’s assistance should it be needed.

“I am glad to say that in my dialogue with Prime Minister Helen Clark, she was supportive and has pledged that should the government (of Solomon Islands) need assistance for the review of the FIAA New Zealand would be able to assist and this has been conveyed to Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.”

Mr Oti said the rationale for the review was to ensure that the operation and assistance of RAMSI were supportive of the Solomon Islands government’s development agendas which were designed to address the root causes of the ethnic tension and that RAMSI officials abide by the laws of Solomon Islands.

He said RAMSI officials were currently enjoying the same privileges and immunities prescribed for diplomats and the provision for that diplomatic treatment should be reviewed as they were only appropriate in the early days of the intervention.

The Foreign Affairs Minister said the review which should commence on the 28th of the month would be inline with the resolutions passed by parliament during its recent sitting and the Special Coordinator of RAMSI, Tim George had been informed of the review process which would include a joint workshop for all the parliamentarians.

Mr Oti said the review agenda would be fully explained to the people of Solomon Islands through an extensive nationwide awareness programme through appropriate avenues.

He said as the Minister for Foreign Affairs he would be engaged in a comprehensive consultation with his counterparts of the RAMSI participating countries informing them on the provisions of the FIAA that the Solomon Islands government and people wanted reviewed.

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