DURING HIS VISIT TO AUSTRALIA last week, Solomon Islands prime minister Gordon Darcy Lilo stated that “the presence of RAMSI has been vital in allowing things to get back to normal in Solomon Islands”.
The Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) is a partnership between the people and government of Solomon Islands and 15 countries of the Pacific.
RAMSI arrived in Solomon Islands in July 2003 at the request of the government. Since then, much has been achieved and Solomon Islands is continuing on its path to recovery.
RAMSI has managed to:
Ensure the safety and security of Solomon Islands.
Repair and reform the machinery of government, improve government accountability and improve the delivery of services in urban and provincial areas.
Improve economic governance and strengthen the government’s financial systems.
Help rebuild the economy and encourage sustainable broad-based growth.
Build strong and peaceful communities.
All these services are also desperately needed in the so-called ‘North Solomon’ region, the Autonomous Province of Bougainville and its surrounding islands.
RAMSI is helping Solomon Islanders get their nation working and growing again. That will take years of hard work. Nothing will change unless Solomon Islanders want change and are willing to work hard in support of a common cause.
It seems that RAMSI is quite successful in its work. While I believe that military presence as in the SI won’t be needed in Bougainville, the situation on the island sometimes reminds me a bit like the pre-RAMSI times in Solomon Islands.
News like the plundering of Chinese shops in Buka, the arson of the three Rabaul Shipping vessels, roadblocks on the island and even stories about a self-proclaimed king who manages hisfraudulent financial business relations by satellite phone from his jungle camp are not really encouraging for foreign investors.
But these investors are now urgently needed to build Bougainville’s economy in the way outlined by President John Momis recently.
My hope is that all Bougainvilleans will be willing to learn from their Melanesian brothers in Honiara and that they will take into consideration some kind of Bougainvillean RAMSI support.
This could perhaps be called ‘RAMBO’ (Regional Assistance Mission for Bougainville). It can bring the island forward towards a better future and perhaps even an important step nearer to independence.