WORLD

Solomon Islands Police Receive Rifles, Vehicles From Australia

“The AFP and RSIPF have a deep friendship that is regularly demonstrated through the sharing of resources and capability, to ensure current and future security challenges and needs in the region are met,” he said.
04 Nov 2022 17:00
Solomon Islands Police Receive Rifles, Vehicles From Australia
The guns and vehicles were welcomed by Manasseh Sogavare at a ceremony in Honiara. Photo: Australian Federal Police/RSIPF

The Australian Federal Police has donated dozens of semi-automatic rifles to the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF), in what diplomats have called a ‘landmark’ step up in security cooperation.

However, Solomon Islands opposition leader Matthew Wale warned against the “militarisation” of Solomon Islands and accused Australia of making the donation purely to stop China building up its influence in the police force.

The 60 MK18 rifles — along with 13 new police vehicles — were handed over to Solomon Islands Police at a ceremony in the capital, Honiara, on Wednesday morning.

 

Acting Commander of the AFP’s Police Partnerships Programme, Clinton Smith, said the weapons would provide the RSIPF with “enhanced capabilities to counter criminal threats and maintain peace and stability” ahead of the Pacific Games next year and the island nation’s national elections in 2024.

“The AFP and RSIPF have a deep friendship that is regularly demonstrated through the sharing of resources and capability, to ensure current and future security challenges and needs in the region are met,” he said.

“The AFP is proud to be the Solomon Islands’ security partner of choice and will continue to work closely with RSIPF officers to ensure [their Police] are trained and equipped to provide the Solomon Islands community with an efficient, modern Police Force.”

 

However, Mr Wale slammed the move late on Tuesday, saying he was worried that the guns would be used against protesters in the future.

“Obviously, we do not have external threats, so why the introduction of these high-powered guns?” he said.

“Or are we on the pathway of being militarised again? If it is none of the two matters raised above, then we are arming ourselves against our own citizens.”

Mr Wale said he was worried that Australia was being driven by its “anxiety” about China’s growing cooperation with Solomon Islands Police.

 

“It is clear Australia is anxious that, if they do not supply guns, then China will,” he said.

“Geopolitical interests has surpassed national interests in this country and it is a sad state of affairs,” he said.

Australia has long been the dominant international partner for the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force, but China has recently been rapidly expanding its own police training programs in the country.

 

Source: ABC News

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