Monday, 8 October 2007 10:31 AM

We Are Not Out to Destroy RAMSI: Oti

Foreign Affairs Minister, Patterson Oti, has rejected claims by his Australian counterpart, Alexander Downer, that he wants to destroy the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands.

Mr Oti said all he demanded of the Australian-led mission was respect for the authority of the elected government of Solomon Islands and acceptance of its national development priorities.

He said that RAMSI had been operating as a parallel government in Solomon Islands since the Grand Coalition for Change Government was elected into office in May last year.

The Foreign Minister said the government's development policy was designed to effectively address the underlying issues of the ethnic tension which necessitated the deployment of RAMSI in 2003.

Mr Oti said the government's review of the Facilitation of the International Assistance Act which legalised the operation of RAMSI this year would be focused on fine-tuning that Act to ensure the mission's operation was in line with the development policy.

He said if RAMSI was genuinely concerned about lasting peace in Solomon Islands then it must work in harmonious partnership with the government in implementing the policy instead of working against the government and fueling fears that violence would reoccur if it was to leave soon.