It is with great honour, that I take this opportunity on behalf of the Government and the People of Solomon Islands, to thank and extend our heartfelt gratitude to the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) for its invaluable service to the nation, which concludes this week.
RAMSI is a partnership forged between the Solomon Islands Government and the Governments of the Pacific Islands Forum Member countries – Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Fiji, Niue, Cook Islands, Samoa, Tuvalu, Nauru, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and Palau to address civil unrest, lawlessness, economic decline and dramatic drop in Government service delivery.
This partnership is testament of the wisdom and vision of Pacific Island Forum Leaders culminating in the Biketawa Declaration that was signed in Kiribati in October 2000 which sought to establish a framework for coordinating responses to a Pacific regional crisis.
The subsequent passage of the Facilitation of the International Assistance Act 2003 by the Solomon Islands National Parliament paved the way for the deployment of RAMSI in Solomon Islands on the 23rd of July 2003, putting in motion ‘Operation Helpim Fren.’
Looking back over RAMSI’s almost 14 years of operation in Solomon Islands, I can proudly say on behalf of the Solomon Islands Government and People that indeed RAMSI has been a successful partnership that fully lived up to its mandate to help Solomon Islands lay the foundations for long-term stability, security and prosperity after the years of civil unrest.
This partnership has weathered many storms and challenges but despite that RAMSI continued to remain as an Icon of hope to many Solomon Islanders. RAMSI became a household name throughout the country for the great work it has done.
It is no secret that that this partnership has enabled, amongst other things, the restoration of civil order, the strengthening of the Machinery of Government, enhancement of the justice and legal sector, improved capabilities of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force and rebuilding of the economy. These achievements have restored hope in Solomon Islanders for a brighter future.
As such, the Solomon Islands Government and People are thankful and will forever be grateful to the wisdom and vision of the Governments of all the RAMSI contributing countries for their foresight in endorsing this partnership. The contributions by the RAMSI participating countries will always be cherished by Solomon Islands as a gift from their Pacific neighbours.
Leading and ensuring the daily up keep of such an organisation is not an easy task, and so let me take this opportunity to thank the present and past RAMSI Special Coordinators, officials and personnel and also their families for their personal sacrifices towards making the RAMSI partnership a success. Special mention goes to the family of the six men and women who lost their lives while serving under RAMSI- Adam Dunning, Private Jamie Clark, Antonio Luciano Scriva, Chief Inspector Amos Solip, Constable Sisiliah Puleheloto and Ronald Edwin Lewis. May their families be comforted by the thought that the sacrifices they made towards rebuilding Solomon Islands was not in vain.
The Farewell RAMSI celebration this week symbolises the profound appreciation of the Solomon Islands Government and People to the Government and People of all RAMSI participating countries for their contributions to a worthy cause.
I am more than confident that the Solomon Islands Government with the collective support of all Solomon Islanders and its stakeholders and friends will build on the foundations laid under this RAMSI partnership for long-term stability, security and prosperity.
Let me also thank the Solomon Islands Government under the leadership of Sir Allan Kemakeza and the Solomon Islands Parliament then for the foresight of endorsing RAMSI’s deployment to Solomon Islands. I am sure we can all proudly look back and with the benefit of hindsight and say, “Yes we have collectively made the right decision on behalf of Solomon Islands and its citizens.”
The RAMSI Farewell celebrations this week also signifies the beginning of a new era for Solomon Islands as a nation to take on the full responsibility of governing its own sovereign affairs once again.
I trust the celebrations will also instil the sense of pride in the 15 RAMSI Participating countries, that they have accomplished the objective of their partnership with the Solomon Islands Government and People.
I wish the leaders of all RAMSI participating countries and other international guests who are here in Honiara for this occasion a wonderful time of celebration. I believe they will return to their respective countries with a profound sense of accomplishment and also determination to continue promoting regional cooperation in the Pacific.
With the foregoing, I urge all Solomon Islanders to join in the RAMSI Farewell programme this week and make it the most memorable occasion for our Pacific Friends, international guests and ourselves.
Tagio Tumas and Hapi Celebration!