Piss off RAMSI

This follows claims of deployment of foreign troops without Police Commissioner Jahir Khan’s consent or involvement.

Solomon Star/ Pacnews
Tue, 28 Aug 2007

HONIARA, SOLOMON ISLANDS ---- Serious rift is deepening between the Solomon Islands Police Force and Australian lead Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).

This follows claims of deployment of foreign troops without Police Commissioner Jahir Khan’s consent or involvement.

RAMSI was alleged to have bypassed Mr Khan in: bringing in troops during the recent political tension over the Opposition motion of no confidence in Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare and planning to bring in extra Australian Federal Police officers to further investigate failed prosecutions over the April 2006 Honiara riots.

The Solomon Star yesterday sighted a strongly worded letter written by Commissioner Khan to Mr Sogavare last week. In this Mr Khan questioned the way RAMSI is allegedly making these decisions without consultation.

Mr Khan seeks Government support to temporarily prevent any additional RAMSI personnel being engaged within the Solomon Islands Police Force. This is until a conclusion is reached clearly demarcating responsibilities of the local police force and RAMSI’s Participating Police Force.

It comes with the Government already questioning the Facilitation of International Assistance Act 2003. This allowed RAMSI to intervene in 2003 after years of ethnic tension and lawlessness.

The Government has stressed it does not oppose RAMSI’s presence and appreciates its good work. But it said the situation now was different to what it was four years ago. The way RAMSI continues to operate here now needs to be looked at, the Government says.

Mr Khan’s letter details his strong opposition to the engagement of foreign forces prior to the motion of no confidence on 10 August.

During that time, he said, additional military personnel were flown to Honiara to reinforce security around Honiara.

Chartered aircraft carrying 168 military personnel flew into Honiara International Airport on Tuesday 7 August from Townsville, Australia, he said.

Mr Khan – a former senior Fiji police officer employed directly by the Solomon Islands Government - said: This operation was executed, without my knowledge or consent, as a result of an executive decision made between RAMSI Special Coordinator, the Commander of PPF, the OIC of the military and Deputy Commissioner Peter Marshall on behalf of the SIPF.”

Meanwhile , the Commander of the RAMSI Participating Police Force, Denis McDermott has rejected as completely misleading suggestions that RAMSI was deploying extra troops and police without consulting with the relevant Solomon Islands authorities.

Mr McDermott expressed surprise at the allegations, saying not only were they not true but he was disappointed that the Commissioner had not raised any of these issues with him directly.

“Ï have been very open with the Commissioner and have made it very clear that I am very keen to have an open, efficient and positive working relationship between from the top to the bottom of the PPF and the SIPF.”

Mr McDermott said it was simply not true that additional troops had been brought into the country ahead of the expected motion of no-confidence as alleged in the letter signed by the Commissioner.

“The troops that arrived were part of the normal rotation of military personnel that has been occurring since the deployment of the mission in 2003.”

Mr McDermott said the policing plan for Operation Parliament had been developed as a joint PPF-SIPF exercise which had been signed off by Commissioner Khan two days before Parliament commenced.

“Further to that Commissioner Khan wrote to me formally requesting the assistance of the PPF and RAMSI’s military contingent. It is therefore very puzzling to me, that the Commissioner should sign a letter suggesting the opposite,” Mr McDermott said.

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