24 Nov 2005

Mercenaries in PNG's Bougainville threaten Fiji, claims opposition

8:24 am on 24 November 2005

Fiji's deputy opposition leader, Poseci Bune, says former soldiers he says are working as mercenaries in Bougainville pose a security threat to Fiji itself.

Mr Bune has told parliament that it's not beyond the realm of possibility that Fijian soldiers can be trained at an overseas location like Bougainville and then launch an attack on Fiji itself to take over the government.

He said if their employers could afford to pay them US$1 million each, as reported in the media, then there's nothing to stop them from hiring a vessel to bring the mercenaries to Fiji with all the sophisticated weapons they are using in Bougainville.

Mr Bune said he believed the weapons in use in Bougainville were far superior to those used by the Fiji military.

Mr Bune urged the government to show more concern about the purported mercenaries in Bougainville.

Radio Fiji reports that in response, the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, said the government still didn't know exactly what the former Fiji soldiers were doing in Bougainville, but it was their responsibility to follow the laws of PNG.