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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

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Solomons’ Premier Slams ‘Hypocritical’ Militancy Comments
RAMSI coordinator said militancy in Solomons ‘at an end’

By Elliot Dawea

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Dec. 4, 2012) – Guadalcanal Premier Anthony Veke lashed out at the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands’ (RAMSI) special coordinator, Nicholas Coppel, for comments made last week in relation to militancy, describing the comments on Friday as ‘hypocritical.’

Nicholas Coppel in the Solomon Star said militancy has clearly come to an end.

Mr. Veke yesterday told the Solomon Star the peace Solomon Islands is enjoying remains fragile because the root causes of the ethnic tension remain unaddressed.

"For the RAMSI head to say there is no more militancy in the Solomon Islands is a clear joke."

The premier said the peace Solomon Islands enjoy now is uncertain because the real issues that the country should address such as the demands of ex-combatants remain outstanding.

"The presence of RAMSI in the Solomon Islands is not a solution because their mandate is to only address law and order and other related issues. The root cause must be addressed before it could be safe to say everyone can now dismiss. That’s when everyone can also hear ex militants say, let’s move on."

He says it was clear guns are still in the hands of some former militants and these people must be properly dealt with before any withdrawal.

Mr. Veke said the RAMSI leader made the bold comments because the RAMSI military is doing almost nothing in terms of lawlessness.

"While he spoke on behalf of RAMSI, indigenous Solomon Islanders must take heed that the National Government must do its part before any complete withdrawal of RAMSI personnel.

"Political leaders and the government must not ignore these issues because it determines if Solomon Islands want to enjoy lasting peace.

"In fact the Guadalcanal people are still disappointed with the National Government for suspending the work of the Commission of Inquiry into Land dealing and abandoned properties on Guadalcanal. These are some of the root causes of the past conflict."

He said while he cannot blame RAMSI on who should address the root causes of the past tension, the Government must not take advantage of the comments made by RAMSI’s special coordinator and remain idle.

"The people of Guadalcanal are very unsettled. We’re of the view that if land issue is not addressed, people will claim and resettle back on Guadalcanal lands which would destabilize peace in the future."

RAMSI Special Coordinator Nicholas Coppel in light of the withdrawal of the last New Zealand military troops said it is the right time for the withdrawal of soldiers.

However he said RAMSI will continue with its focus on strengthening the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force.

Last week’s withdrawal leaves RAMSI’s military component entirely in the hands of a handful of Australian soldiers.

Solomon Star
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