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Message to the people of Solomon Islands

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Speaker: Nick Warner, Special Coordinator, Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands

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People everywhere have a right
to live their lives peacefully, to go about their daily business without
or violence or intimidation, to have their children educated in schools,
to have illnesses attended to in hospitals and clinics, to have a government
that is permitted to govern for the benefit of all people, free from
intimidation or coercion by armed thugs.

Solomon Islands used to be such
a place.

But for too long this country has suffered at the hands of
a small number of militants and criminals who have terrorised Solomon
Islands society, brought
the country to its knees, and done a disservice to the reputation of
Solomon Islanders as a good and generous people.

The men and women
from around the Pacific who arrived on your shores today as part of the
regional assistance mission come at the invitation
of the
Solomon Islands government, and as guests of the Solomon Islands

We are calling our involvement here Operation Helpem Fren, because that
is what we are here to do. We are here as friends, to work in
you, to restore promise to your country, to restore hopes for a better
life to you and your children.

Our immediate purpose is to restore
law and order in Solomon Islands. Our police will be working hand-in-hand
with the Solomon Islands
police to provide
safety and security to streets and villages and to get guns out
of communities. Only then will conditions exist for the revival of the

The men and women in military uniform who you saw arriving today, and
the ship that you see in the harbour, are here to provide support to these
efforts. But, should criminals seek to sabotage our assistance efforts,
endanger public safety, or prevent the police from doing their duty, the
will not hesitate to act.

The partnership that we begin with Solomon Islands
today is a long-term commitment. The problems confronting Solomon Islands
will not be fixed overnight. While
law and order is being restored, we will work with you to bring stability
to the budget, to rebuild the machinery of government, and restore the
delivery of essential government services to people. The conditions for
economic growth
and improved living standards will be put in place.

Those individuals
who have profited - at the expense of the nation as a whole - from the
disorder of the past few years will no longer be permitted
do so. We will stop the culture of extortion that has brought this
country to its knees. It is an ugly distortion of Solomon Islands customs

Let me emphasise again that Australia, New Zealand, and the
other Pacific countries involved in the regional assistance mission are
here at the
formal and explicit request of your government. All of us respect
the fact that
Solomon Islands is an independent and sovereign country. We are here
to help you and your government restore that sovereignty - to restore
the capacity
of government to represent its people and to act in the public good.
We will ensure that the people of Solomon Islands regain control
of their destiny
from a minority of criminals with guns.

Solomon Islands is a young
country of great promise. We, your partners in the Pacific, and with
God's help, are here to help Solomon Islanders
that promise.

Last Updated: 19 September 2014
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