22 May 2006

Solomon Islands prime minister wants greater control of decision making in key areas

8:19 pm on 22 May 2006

The Solomon Islands prime minister, Manasseh Sogavare, says he does not have a time limit set for the exit strategy of the Regional Assistance Mission, or RAMSI.

Mr Sogavare says his comments about the need for an exit strategy following discussions with the foreign ministers of Australia and New Zealand, does not mean that he wants to see RAMSI leave the country.

The prime minister says, however, that there has to be a clear passing on of responsibilities to Solomon Islanders and this is not happening.

"We need to ensure that Solomon Islanders are capable of taking over from expatriates when they leave. That is our concern, and this concern is very serious because it is not clear, actually it's not really happening. And, our fear is that if they leave, you know, you may leave a big gap here and we're back to square one."

Mr Sogavare says RAMSI is heavily involved in the Ministry of Finance and the Police, and although they are called advisers, people are actively making decisions which should be taken by Solomon Islanders.

He says the annual review of RAMSI, which is being held in July, will include government demands that Solomon Islanders take greater responsibility in those areas.