RAMSI’s preparations for draw-down from Solomon Islands is well on track.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare was briefed by the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) Special Coordinator Quinton Devlin, and the Deputy Special Coordinator, Richard Griffith on the development phases of the RAMSI drawdown strategy this week.
With six more months to go, the regional security initiative headed by Australia is scaling down its operation in the country as it prepares to hand over the reins of the country’s security to the local police- Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF).
“Everything that RAMSI needs to finish on its drawdown activities are well on track,” Mr Devlin said, adding the regional mission is embarking on its nation-wide community outreach program to ensure the transition is well understood by Solomon Islanders when the regional security initiative leaves Solomon Islands in June 2017.
Mr Devlin said RAMSI is working hand in hand with the Government Special Secretary to RAMSI and the Office of the Commissioner of Police on the RAMSI drawdown awareness, acknowledging the contribution of the Commissioner of Police Frank Prendergast and the Special Secretary to RAMSI, John Wasi in the awareness programs, which he said have contributed immensely in a addressing some of the apprehensions of the public regarding the transition.
Mr Devlin said the awareness on the drawdown will boost public confidence in the ability of the RSIPF and the overall Government machinery once RAMSI leaves Solomon Islands.
He said investing resources for rural policing infrastructure would be a foreseeable challenge for the Government.
In response, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said he is satisfied with the gradual but yet steady phase of the RAMSI drawdown and indicated that Cabinet has taken onboard the possible vacuum that RAMSI may leave behind, especially on rural policing, and have endorsed more financial resources for rural policing.
He said the Government is fully committed to its obligations in rural policing, and is fully aware of the challenges.
Prime Minister Sogavare said the Government would not want a situation where RAMSI’s withdrawal would also be seen as ‘taking the confidence way’ from the RSIPF and the Government machinery, but he is satisfied with the growing success of the capacity and the standard of professionalism attained by the RSIP over the years.
The Prime Minister said the RSIPF has now been recognized as one of the top regional police force with wide commendations from various sectors.
He said this professionalism is displayed by the deployment of RSIPF for international peace keeping and humanitarian duties abroad under the auspices of the United Nations.
Furthermore, he said the RSIPF is now conducting police training in other Pacific Island countries such as Nauru and Tuvalu, which also boosted their regional and international profile.
Prime Minister Sogavare said in view of these developments, the Government is now looking at providing scholarships for
RSIPF officers to boost their capacity, especially in specialized fields of policing.
He said the idea of back-up international police presence remains an option for the Government to consider which will be reviewed when the Government enters into any Post-RAMSI treaty with the Government of Australia within the remaining six months before RAMSI withdraws.
The Prime Minister assured Mr Devlin that the Government of Solomon Islands will continue to work closely with RAMSI until the final day, with every intention to end the decade-long regional security initiative on a very high note.