LAWMAKER QUESTIONS REARMING SOLOMONS POLICE

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Jan. 24) – The Solomon Islands Parliamentary Opposition yesterday expressed its strong opposition to the government’s plan to re-arm the police force.

Opposition Leader Fred Fono said Solomon Islanders have had enough of living under the barrel of the gun.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare early this week made known its plan to re-arm the police to provide security over the prime minister and his ministers.

However, in a statement Mr. Fono questioned why taxpayers are made to pay for the security of a handful of politicians.

"Why should taxpayers’ money be spent on the security of a handful of politicians only? What about the security of everyone else in the country?" Mr. Fono asked.

He said it is premature to start thinking about arming the police, as the memory of police officers taking sides in the recent ethnic conflict remains fresh in people’s minds.

He said the RAMSI [Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands] Police Protection Force has been assisting the Solomon Islands Police Force with both logistic and personnel support to provide security over VIPs [very important person] including the Prime Minister.

Mr. Fono believed the same arrangement could be made to ensure the security of Cabinet Ministers.

"The arrangement is adequate for the time-being," the Opposition Leader said.

Under the arrangement, requests have to be put to the Commissioner of Police who is responsible for the protection and security of VIPs.

Mr. Fono urges parliamentarians to put requests to the Commissioner of Police who is responsible for the protection and security of VIPs.

The Parliamentary Opposition joins RAMSI and the National Council of Women to oppose the government’s plan.

Mr. Fono urges parliamentarians, both on the ruling side and the Opposition, the churches, non-governmental organizations and the public at large to reject the government’s plan to re-arm the police force.

Meanwhile, the Opposition Leader acknowledges the commendable and tangible improvements being achieved by members of the Solomon Islands Police force since RAMSI began a re-strengthening program of the force in 2006.

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