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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Oct. 23) - Expelling RAMSI [Regional Assistance Mission Solomon Islands] at this time would be equivalent to committing an act of national suicide, the local anti-corruption body, Transparency Solomon Islands (TSI), warned yesterday.

"If the Prime Minister goes ahead with his threat to expel RAMSI, the political, economic security and safety of the nation would immediately slip back to where they were prior to the arrival of RAMSI," the board of TSI warned in a statement. "To expel RAMSI would be to condemn the nation to a return of the dark days that we all experienced from 1999 to 2003 when the rule of law and any semblance of transparency or accountability simply disappeared. When RAMSI came, law and order returned and the guns were destroyed, or forced into concealment, this was the first step towards returning sovereignty to the nation’s rightful institutions -- the National Parliament and the Executive Government, which are the custodians of the nation’s sovereignty on behalf of the people."

It said a lot of gains have been made in partnership with RAMSI in the past three years, but this could all be undone very quickly if RAMSI was to leave prematurely.

"The fight against corruption which has only just begun would also suffer a major set back and its continuation would not really be possible in such an environment," the statement says. "During the ethnic tension, especially after the 2000 coup, the rule of law went out of the window and was replaced with the law of the gangs with guns. The current prime minister knows only too well about this as he was installed as prime minister with the approval and under the control of the militants after his predecessor was forced at gunpoint to resign as Prime Minister of Solomon Islands. The sovereignty of the country -- which the current prime minister seems so passionate about -- was, back in those days, neither under the control of the Central Government nor the National Parliament but was in the hands of the militants, thugs and criminals," TSI said.

It said before the arrival of RAMSI, if you paid a visit to the Offices of the Prime Minister, the Central Treasury or any other Ministry that might be of interest to the militants, the thugs and criminals, you would find them, armed with automatic weapons, sitting on top the office desks and chairs which were supposed to be used by officials, demanding whatever they wanted, and most of the time, they would get it.

"This was not an environment where issues such as transparency and accountability could even be sensibly discussed let alone enforced," the TSI Board said.

It added the threat by Prime Minister Sogavare to expel RAMSI from Solomon Islands, was not only irresponsible and lacking in farsightedness, but a very dangerous political option for the country to entertain.

"Once we are back in such unstable political and social situations, with uncertainty hanging over us, instead of economic growth and prosperity that would give us some guarantee of peace, there would be lawlessness, violence, increasing poverty and Solomon Islands as a nation could just disintegrate.

"We call on the 50 members of Parliament to protect the true interests of the nation at this time and make sure the Prime Minister cannot carry out this threat," the TSI board said.

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