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Playing politics in Honiara

Hameiri, S. (2006) Playing politics in Honiara. The Age, 16 September .


RATHER than being a diplomatic crisis between two states, this week's developments in Honiara revealed the complex nature of domestic politics in the Solomon Islands, wrote Shahar Hameiri. This was exacerbated by the ill-defined relationships between the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands, the Solomon Islands Government and the Australian high commission. "While flagged as an apolitical mission designed to halt ethnic and criminal violence and restore function to the Solomons Government and public administration, RAMSI has had to confront powerful and entrenched political resistance to its economic reforms. Some of these reforms, far from apolitical, have worked to undermine the basis of politics in the Solomon Islands by drying up the funds that had hitherto connected Honiara to the provinces in a dense web of patronage and favour." Although RAMSI had established itself in key positions within the Solomons administration, the real power relationship was rarely spelled out. To implement reform, RAMSI had become involved in domestic political struggles. The ousting of high commissioner Patrick Cole had turned attention to the relationship between RAMSI and the Australian high commission. Since RAMSI was widely seen as an Australian operation, any meddling by Australian officials in politics in the Solomons reinforced the insecurity of political leaders. "Once again, the Cole affair has demonstrated that interventions are not about effective management but about politics."

Publication Type: Non-refereed Article
Murdoch Affiliation: Asia Research Centre
Publisher: Fairfax
Copyright: Fairfax
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