Solomons in new security deal

THE Solomon Islands and Australia have signed a new security treaty – one the Solomons’ Prime Minister hopes will “collect dust” and never be used.
Solomons in new security deal Solomons in new security deal Solomons in new security deal Solomons in new security deal Solomons in new security deal

Malcolm Turnbull greets Manasseh Sogavare at Parliament House in Canberra

Staff Reporter

The Guardian newspaper reported that Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare was in Australia for a week-long visit, during which time he signed a bilateral security agreement with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Part of this agreement would provide for the rapid deployment of Australian security forces in the case of civil and ethnic unrest, similar to that which took place in the early 2000s.
"The security treaty is ‘just in case'," Sogavare said this week, "if the Solomon Islands goes back to what it was in the 2000s.
"But we're determined to ensure that the treaty will collect dust. We will not allow the country to go down that way. The treaty is about if we fall back into a situation where we were in the 2000s, Australia would come back and assist us."
Turnbull told parliament the treaty "will enable defence, civilian and civilian personnel to deploy operationally in emergency situations to provide security or humanitarian assistance at the Solomon Islands government's request".
Sogavare said he was in Australia to thank the country for its unswerving support over 14 years of Ramsi, the $3 billion Regional Assistance Mission in the Solomon Islands, which pulled the country back from the brink of civil war from 2003, The Guardian reported.
"The Tensions", as they are known in the Solomons, saw increasing ethnic violence between 1998 and 2003, in which militants from Guadalcanal island and nearby Malaita fought over land, jobs and economic development. Two hundred people were killed, hundreds more were beaten and tortured, sexual violence was widespread and several thousand people were displaced from their homes.
In 2003, with the Solomons on the verge of collapse, the government formally requested assistance from its regional neighbours.
Over 14 years until June this year, when Ramsi formally concluded, more than 7200 Australian soldiers and 1700 police served in the Solomons. Two Australians died and more than 30 police were injured during election protests in 2006.
Forty-four unarmed Australian Federal Police officers remain stationed in the country.
Turnbull said Ramsi had been a success. "In 2017 we see a very different Solomon Islands," he said. "It enjoys what is by global standards a very low crime rate, it has a high-quality police force, Solomon Islands markets are bustling, children are back at school, medicines are available."


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