30 Jan 2007

Solomon Islands Prime Minister directed police withdrawal, says RAMSI

8:26 pm on 30 January 2007

The Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands says it is ready and willing to discuss the Prime Minister's security needs.

RAMSI says Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare in October last year directed the mission to withdraw its police which provided protection for him.

The RAMSI Special Coordinator Tim George says the direction was passed onto the Participating Police Force (PPF), who complied with it, withdrawing the unit in December.

He says the equipment used by this group was withdrawn three weeks ago following another letter from the Prime Minister on 7 January directing that PPF training for the close protection unit be discontinued.

The letter also stated that Solomon Islands Police Force members of the unit would be trained in Taiwan as RAMSI had failed to provide adequate training.

Mr George said Mr Sogovare's stance was surprising.

He says he's offered the Prime Minister and his staff a thorough threat assessment.

Mr George says RAMSI is willing to discuss ways that its police and resources could help but this does not include re-arming the police.