8 Jul 2010

NZ troops off to Solomons as election security

1:31 pm on 8 July 2010

The New Zealand Defence Force says it's prudent planning to send a platoon to Solomon Islands to back up forces on the ground during next month's election.

37 New Zealand defence force personnel are travelling to Solomon Islands today to boost security for up to three months over the election period.

Two weeks after the 2006 election rioting erupted in the Honiara area.

The violence prompted Australia and New Zealand to send reinforcements to restore order.

Air Vice Marshal Peter Stockwell says the new deployment will support the Royal Solomon Islands Police and the Participating Police Force, the policing element of the Regional Assistance Mission.

"At the moment things are pretty stable but at the time of the election there is the potential that crowds could form and situations could arise where there is a need for security forces so it's really i guess an insurance policy just to make sure we have adequate cover both at the policing level and then there's a back up from the military to make sure that we can contain any situations that happen."

Air Vice Marshal Stockwell says Australia has several platoons in Solomon Islands, and a Pacific Island platoon from Tonga is also present.