AUSTRALIA SEEKS PERMANENT POLICE PRESENCE IN SOLOMONS

The Australian Federal Police logo. Photo credit: www.flickr.com

The Australian Federal Police logo. Photo credit: www.flickr.com

Australia is negotiating a security deal with Solomon Islands that would see a permanent federal police presence in the country.

SBS News reports, the Australian-led, 15-nation RAMSI peacekeeping mission in the Solomons will end next June after 14 years in the Pacific island country.

“The end of RAMSI should be seen as a vote of confidence in the Solomon Islands,” Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells told the Australia Solomon Islands Business Forum in Brisbane, attended by Solomon Islands prime minister Manasseh Sogavare.

She said while RAMSI might be leaving Solomon Islands next year, Australia is not going anywhere adding, in short Australia is here to stay.

The Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) was deployed in 2003 to end a bloody conflict known as the “tensions”, that claimed hundreds of lives, and to disarm combatants.

Meanwhile, an emergency assistance agreement between Australian and the Solomons in the case of future civil unrest is also being prepared.

Ms. Fierravanti-Wells said while the details are still being finalised, it will almost certainly contain details of a contingent of Australian Federal Police, based in Honiara, under the umbrella of the Australian High Commission, working closely with the Solomon Islands police force counterparts.

She adds they have also commenced the discussion about a mechanism that would allow Solomon Islands to seek emergency operational assistance from Australia, in the event of future uprisings.

An Australian-led military peace-keeping force made up of Pacific Island soldiers ended its role in the RAMSI mission in 2013.

A Lowy Institute report in 2014 calculated the decade of peacekeeping cost $2.6 billion and the results achieved were at a ‘massive and disproportionate’ cost to Australia.

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