Saturday, 23 June 2007 10:05 AM

RAMSI IN OR OUT

The future role of RAMSI and whether it stays in the Solomon Islands, will be known soon, when the Government announces details of planned amendments towards end of this month.

The Sogavare-led government is intending to introduce an Amendment Bill to change parts of the International Facilitation Act 2003 in next month's session of Parliament.

The Facilitating Act which provides the over-arching framework for RAMSI's operation in the country has recently been the center of debate. The Parliament, if allowed to debate the Amendments, may interfere with the work of the Forum team that is currently reviewing the work of RAMSI.

This will also confirm or dispel speculations amongst observers and political commentators that the Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare and his supporters only have one ultimate goal; to get rid of RAMSI. The goal could also be the fundamental underlying reason for the Government's current stand-off with Australia.

When the Sogavare-led Government announced its intentions to introduce the amendments in a joint consultative meeting in Honiara last week with representatives of the Pacific Forum and RAMSI which caused an uneasy feeling amongst the representatives of the Forum and RAMSI.

The Pacific Forum Consultative Group meeting, second of its kind since February, is known as the Enhanced Consultative Mechanisms (ECM) between SIG and RAMSI. It was established and mandated by the Pacific Forum leaders at their meeting in Nadi last October to undertake a review of RAMSI.

The Forum in that meeting agreed to set up the ECM to review RAMSI following stand-offs between the Sogavare-led government and Australia. Since the Sogavare-led Government came into power in April last year and given the fact that the mission is largely financed by the Australian Government, there has been a period of uneasiness between the two countries to which there are direct implications on RAMSI.

The Chair of the meeting, PNG High Commissioner to Solomon Islands Mr Parai Tamei, in a joint-press conference, told local media that the ECM meeting was successful because it was conducted in a cordial, constructive and serious manner to address issues of interest to the region in as far as they relate to the operations of RAMSI in the Solomon Islands.