The government recently authorised the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) to commence the limited reintroduction of firearms into the Royal Solomon Islands Police.
Dr Tarcisius Tara Kabutaulaka, from the University of Hawai'i's Center for Pacific Islands Studies, says caution should be taken over the re-armament issue given the experiences leading up to and during the ethnic tensions.
“I would be really, really, cautious and raise the question - why are we re-arming ourselves, who are we fighting against? Our past experiences have shown that when we have arms, we use it against our own nationals and therefore, I'm not certain whether this is the time to re-arm Solomon Islands police.”
Meanwhile, Dr Kabutaulaka says there remains a public perception in Solomon Islands that it is still too difficult to find a suitable local to be the Police Commissioner.
This follows the appointment of an Australian, Frank Prendergast, as the Solomons police chief.
Dr Kabutaulaka says the appointment process has been long and encompassed a brief stint as commissioner by a local, Peter Aoraunisaka, who was quickly withdrawn after he was found to be too old for the position.
He says no suitable local candidate has emerged.
“And this is because of experiences with the police and alleged involvement by some high ranking police officers - not all of them - in the conflict that we had in late 1999/2000 up until the deployment of RAMSI in 2003.”