POLICE REARMAMENT CONSULTATIONS RESUMED FOR 2015

Manelusi present footballs to Chief Pitu. Photo credit: RAMSI/RSIPF.

Manelusi present footballs to Chief Pitu. Photo credit: RAMSI/RSIPF.

Community consultations regarding the limited rearmament of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) have resumed for this year, with consultations reaching Vera Kambikambi village in East Guadalcanal last week.

An RAMSI statement said the session was led by representatives from the Ministry of Police, National Security and Correctional Services, RSIPF and RAMSI.

Speaking at the session, RSIPF Assistant Commissioner Gabriel Manelusi said the decision for a staged limited rearmament of the police was made in 2013 by the Darcy Lilo-led Government.

The new Government of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has also indicated support for the staged limited rearmament of the police when it came into power in November last year.

Mr Manelusi explained, only members of the Police Response Team (PRT), the Close Personal Protection (CPP) Unit and the Airport Police will be rearmed under the rearmament project.

Representing the Ministry of Police, Morris Maitaki told the consultation session that Solomon Islands will have to take care of its own security when RAMSI leaves, so preparation is vital.

Meanwhile, Mr Maitaki said the decision for a staged rearmament of the police is a Government decision and not a decision made by RAMSI.

Supporting these sentiments, Mick Walburn of the RAMSI Participating Police Force (PPF) told the gathering that the Project is a partnership between the RSIPF and the PPF.

He said each stage of the rearmament project depends entirely on the Solomon Islands Government’s approval before moving onto the next stage.

He adds it is only when the Government is satisfied and if RSIPF is ready then they can move to the next stage, adding that at the moment it is in the preparation stage.

Responding to the consultations, Chief Benedict Pitu told the gathering that he agreed with the idea of the staged limited rearmament of the three groups.

But Mr Pitu told the meeting that the armed police should also be based in the provinces, especially rural areas like AvuAvu and the Weather Coast of Guadalcanal.

About 100 people from both Vera Kambikambi, Konga and Forest valley villages in East Guadalcanal attended the consultations last week.

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