3 Feb 2005

Group of Solomons cabinet members call for reforms to RAMSI

9:25 am on 3 February 2005

A group of cabinet ministers in Solomon Islands is renewing calls for a reworking of the Regional Assistance Mission.

The Finance Minister, Francis Zama, told a general debate in parliament in Honiara yesterday that his position was being undermined by certain sectors of the mission.

Mr Zama said RAMSI's achievements in restoring law and order and stabilising government finances and operations weren't in question, but in the end the Solomons had to decide its own destiny.

The Police Minister Michael Maina warned local police officers could become demoralised because of the relationship with outside police officers.

Mr Zama and Mr Maina are among six ministers who wrote a cabinet committee report on RAMSI calling for a scaling down of assistance in the government finance sector, and a full withdrawal by the middle of the year.

However, during the debate the Tourism Minister and many MPs voiced their support for RAMSI.

The RAMSI Special Coordinator, James Batley, said he was confident the mission retained strong support from Solomon Islanders, and it was a matter of working through any problems.