Australia And Solomon Islands Sign New Security Treaty

Signing of the security treaty comes soon after the end of the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, RAMSI

By Liam Fox

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, August 14, 2017) – The Australian and Solomon Islands governments have signed a security treaty that paves the way for rapid Australian assistance in the event of future natural disasters or outbreaks of civil unrest.

Solomons Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare signed the security treaty with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull during an official visit to Canberra.

Later, as Mr Sogavare watched proceedings in Parliament, Mr Turnbull outlined some details of the treaty.

He said it "will enable defence, civilian and civilian personnel to deploy operationally in emergency situations to provide security or humanitarian assistance at the Solomon Islands Government's request".

The signing of the security treaty comes soon after the end of the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, RAMSI.

RAMSI finished at the end of June after a 14-year, $3 billion effort to rebuild the country after an outbreak of ethnic violence in the late 1990s caused a breakdown in law and order.

Mr Turnbull told Parliament RAMSI was a success.

"In 2017 we see a very different Solomon Islands," he said.

"It enjoys what is by global standards a very low crime rate, it has a high quality police force, Solomon Islands markets are bustling, children are back at school, medicines are available."

While most Solomon Islanders agree RAMSI was a success, many are also nervous about their country's future.

In June, some of them told the ABC they believed the ethnic tension that led to violence in the past could easily resurface, and they doubted the local police force could maintain peace and stability.

The new security treaty is one of a number of measures aimed at assuring the Solomon Islands Government and its people that while RAMSI has ended Australian assistance will continue.

Mr Turnbull said the Australian Government was providing a package of post-RAMSI assistance to help maintain security and stability worth $141 million over four years.

Radio Australia
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