25 May 2005

New Zealand to decide on Thursday whether to resume Bougainville policing

2:35 pm on 25 May 2005

New Zealand police say a decision is expected tomorrow on whether the five officers withdrawn from the Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville last week will return to their posts.

The community police officers were flown to the capital, Port Moresby, after a reported threat by a member of the separatist Meekamui movement to kill a foreign policeman on the island.

Their withdrawal followed only days after Australian police left because the immunity provisions applying to them were ruled to be unconstitutional.

The possible return of the New Zealand contingent was discussed at yesterday's talks in Buka between the New Zealand High Commissioner, Laurie Markes, the head of the New Zealand police team, Inspector Bazz Bailey, and members of the police and civil administration on Bougainville.

After the departure of the Australian police, the Papua New Guinea government last week formally asked New Zealand to send more police to Bougainville.

The province is in the middle of a two week long election to choose its first autonomous government.