6 Mar 2007

Solomons opposition calls for composite protection squad

5:19 pm on 6 March 2007

There are calls in Solomon Islands for a composite team of police drawn from personnel with the regional assistance mission to provide the close personnel protection unit for VIPs, the prime minister and governor general.

It follows a request from the prime minister, Manasseh Sogavare, to his PNG counterpart Sir Michael Somare for PNG police to fill the role, after he dropped his push for armed Solomons police to man the unit.

The opposition leader, Fred Fono, says they are opposed to a PNG force alone doing the job because the impact on Solomon Islands of the actions of the PNG defence force during the Bougainville civil war is still being felt.

"We have suffered the consequences of the effects of the Bougainville crisis which the Papua New Guinea defence force did over the years when we experienced this spill over effect in two of our provinces, neighbouring provinces to Papua New Guinea, Western Province and Choiseul Province."

The opposition leader, Fred Fono.

Community leaders have also raised objections to a police force criticised for corruption and poor performance forming the unit.