RAMSI Success Story A Culmination Of Strong Partnership: PM Tells Symposium

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Prime Minister Sogavare delivering his speech to open the high-level symposium on RAMSI.

The Prime Minister made the remarks when speaking at the one-day high-level symposium in Honiara today to reflect on the RAMSI intervention and its legacy. The symposium is part of the RAMSI farewell celebration programme this week.

The Prime Minister said the RAMSI partnership was based on mutual trust and confidence built over 14 years.

He said this ideal partnership was very blurred in the beginning, especially during the early stages of restoring civil order and stabilising government finances.

Prime Minister Sogavare said whilst the RAMSI partnership was between the 15 participating countries and Solomon Islands, the country was treated as the beneficiary in the early stages of the intervention and therefore it had very little say in the way things were done.

14 years on, the Prime Minister said Solomon Islands could now appreciate the reason why the decision-making process was designed that way.

Prime Minister Sogavare said if there were any lessons to learn from Solomon Islands experience with RAMSI as a strategy for stabilisation and state- building, there were ‘heaps.’

He said the strength of the RAMSI has been its partnership approach which was strategically designed not to advance itself as an occupying force like what happened in Iraq.

With RAMSI, the Prime Minister said what was not clearly understood in the early stages of the intervention became clearer during the course of the intervention.

He said much of the confusion that occurred then could have been avoided if the nature of the intervention was clarified earlier with leaders.

However, the Prime Minister Sogavare said this was not possible because of the lack of trust in political leaders based on the belief that they designed the ethnic tension to benefit themselves but looking back that argument became very weak.

The Prime Minister said the truth of the matter was that the country was ripe for anarchy and revolt because of the perception that the national government was only interested in polarising more powers in the central government and forgot about the provincial governments.

He said that perception revolved around the fact that the provincial government system, since its establishment in the 1980s, has never been allowed to function as it should.

The Prime Minister said the process of devolution came to a grinding halt with the central government taking control over the decisions on how the national wealth was distributed, adding that where powers were devolved, they were not accompanied with the appropriate logistics, financial resources and infrastructure.

But that aside, Prime Minister Sogavare said RAMSI was the right model to address the crisis situation in Solomon Islands and it was a model to be promoted in the international community.

He said unlike the intervention in Iraq whereby the interventionists gained and kept the trust of the people and took them with them when they left, RAMSI restored the trust and confidence of the people in the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force and the Solomon Islands Government as a whole,

The Prime Minister said the challenge for the Solomon Islands Government, including the RSIPF in the post-RAMSI era is to maintain that trust and confidence.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister said he looked forward to the outcome of the symposium.