Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Like DPF, the news that the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (which includes New Zealand troops and police) has arrested two opposition MPs for their role in last week's riots is making me nervous. It is one thing to be a neutral guarantor of law and order - but regardless of the strength of the case against these two men, it runs the risk of being seen to be interfering in local politics. Just to ask the obvious questions, what happens if they can't vote in Thursday's confidence vote? What happens if the new government wins that motion only because its opponents were in jail? Wouldn't that call the basic legitimacy of both the Solomon Islands government and our mission there into question?

When I posted about this last week, I supported New Zealand's presence in the Solomons on the basis that the mission was humanitarian and at the request of the Solomon Islands government. But I also noted that it could only be supported as long as RAMSI stayed a neutral guarantor of law and order. If they ceased to be neutral, and began to favour (or were seen to favour) one faction over another, then it would be time to come home. If the government survives on Thursday because we have jailed its opponents, then I think that that point may have already arrived...


Some further reading on the RAMSI intervention in general:

Shahar Hameiri: What really went wrong in Solomons
Massey University: Where next for the Solomon Islands?

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 4/25/2006 01:44:00 PM