24 Feb 2005

PNG Bougainville taskforce to probe compensation claims

4:28 pm on 24 February 2005

The Papua New Guinea island of Bougainville is to establish a wide-ranging taskforce to look at how to deal with compensation claims against the provincial government.

The issue has come to a head following the recent occupation of the 600-pupil Hutjena High School at Buka by a group calling itself the Hangan Home Guard.

The group claimed compensation for looking after the school during the civil war on Bougainville that ended seven years ago.

Armed police intervened over a week ago to end the occupation, arresting 22 young men and holding about 30 more for questioning.

The Bougainville Provincial Administrator, Peter Tsiamalili, says the school will open on Monday.

He says the occupation's over and will never be repeated, but the issues underlying it are far from resolved.

"I feel very happy to say that we have been able to contain the situation. In terms of whether we resolved the matter, it's still pending but the Government has taken the step now to establish a taskforce what will then look at the whole issue of claims and all these other related issues and come up hopefully with a clear government policy as to how these sort of claims are to be dealt with."

Peter Tsiamalili says the school did not open this week, as had been planned, so teachers have time to prepare.