15 Feb 2005

Solomons Islands officials to interview three Australian candidates for police commissioner

6:22 pm on 15 February 2005

The Solomon Islands Police Minister, Michael Maina, says he expects up to nine applicants for the position of police commissioner.

Later this week officials travel to Canberra to interview three candidates put up by the Australian Government, while Mr Maina says at least three other candidates are foreigners.

One is the current commissioner, Englishman Bill Morrell, whose contract finishes on March 31st after being extended by three months to allow more time to select a new commissioner.

Australia, late last year, offered to provide and fund the commissioner. But the offer sparked a political row in the Solomons and it was decided instead to advertise the position.

Mr Maina has indicated he has no problem with the Australian offer but says he will seek the guidance of Cabinet later this week on the issue.

He says the key requirement of a commissioner is that they can help rebuild the force.

It is understood that Canberra wants both the posts of police commissioner and assistant commissioner to be taken up by Australians.

The current deputy police commissioner, Sandy Piesley, is Australian.