Wednesday, 28 January 2009 11:27 AM

New RAMSI Head Reaches Out to Solomon Islanders

The Chiefs and people of Salesapa Village, Gela Island, put on a special welcome for RAMSI's new Special Coordinator, Graeme Wilson and his family when they took part in a RAMSI Community Outreach visit to Central Province this week.

Mr. Wilson, who was making his first visit to the provinces as Special Coordinator, thanked the community for hosting their visit.

"I've been here for just over a week but I think it is an important part of my job to visit communities such as yours so I have a chance to hear the views of ordinary Solomon Islanders," he told a crowd of more than 300 men, women and children gathered for the outreach.

An Australian diplomat with a lot of experience in the Pacific, Mr. Wilson who has leant Solomon Islands pidgin as part of his preparation for the Special Coordinator's job was accompanied by his wife Lisa, daughter Laura, and sons, Andrew and Matthew on the visit to Salesapa.

The family, along with the rest of the Outreach team, was welcomed with traditional panpipes and farewelled with flowers and a special song but not before joining in the dancing on Salesapa's beach front amid much whooping and shrieks of laughter.

"I want to thank all of you for the wonderful welcome you have given me, my wife Lisa and our children," Mr. Wilson told Chief Bartholomew Tarai and the people of Salesapa.

The Government's Permanent Secretary for RAMSI Affairs, Paul Tovua, also took part in the Outreach. He was warmly received by the community who remembered him from his days as Speaker and Chairman of the National Peace Council.

Asked about the timeframe for RAMSI's presence in Solomon Islands, Mr. Tovua explained that the Government and RAMSI were now finalising a partnership framework agreement.

"The Government and RAMSI are working on this framework agreement, looking at the areas where we can best work together and setting goals that we think we can achieve through the SIG-RAMSI partnership," he said.

"We don't want to rush our friends who have come to help us, we want to make sure that the job they came to do is not only done, it is done well."

The Special Coordinator said the partnership framework agreement would be used to measure Solomon Islands and RAMSI's progress towards those agreed goals.

"This is how we will know that RAMSI's job is done and it is time for us to go," Mr Wilson said.

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