11 Feb 2005

Bougainville administrator says occupation totally unreasonable - occupiers could be arrested

4:30 pm on 11 February 2005

The administrator of the Papua New Guinea island of Bougainville says authorities are looking at various options, including arrest, against people occupying a major school.

The office of the Bougainville Governor said yesterday it believes an agreement's been reached with youths occupying Hutjena High School at Buka.

But the provincial administrator, Peter Tsiamalili, says he's heard of no such agreement.

As many as 100 young men are demanding 600 thousand US dollars from the provincial government for their having guarded the school during the civil war which ended seven years ago.

Mr Tsiamalili says the occupation of the 600-pupil school is totally unreasonable and options, including arrest, will be considered at a meeting today.

"We cannot allow a situation which I consider purely as a law and order problem. They have trespassed the school, the police should exercise their powers to arrest these people on the basis that they are illegally trespassing in the school grounds, and these are options that we are going to look at."

Peter Tsiamalili.