20 May 2005

PNG Government asks New Zealand for more Bougainville police, then puts request on hold

5:53 pm on 20 May 2005

The Papua New Guinea Government will re-assess next week whether it needs more New Zealand police to help provide security during the elections for an autonomous government in Bougainville.

This comes after the Australian contingent on Bougainville was withdrawn this week after elements of its Enhanced Cooperation Programme were declared unconstitutional.

New Zealand currently provides five police, who work with the community policing network which operates at village level.

The PNG Foreign Minister, Sir Rabbie Namaliu, says he asked the New Zealand high commissioner if more police could be sent to fill the vacuum left by the Australians.

But he says after further advice from Bougainville, that request is now on hold.

"The provincial administrator as well as the assistant commissioner for police - responsible for police on Bougainville, feel at this stage, that there is no need to ask for any additional police because they think that it can be done from within the resources that they have on the ground. They have also organised for other contingency plans. So they have basically asked me to convey to the New Zealand Government to put on hold that request and have it re-assessed next week."

Earlier this week, the New Zealand Foreign Minister, Phil Goff, had indicated New Zealand would consider any request for additional police.