12 Dec 2005

Fiji ex-soldiers on Bouganville reportedly refuse to leave PNG

4:35 pm on 12 December 2005

The six former Fiji soldiers still in the Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville with wanted businessman, Noah Musingku, have reportedly refused to return home, prompting fear about their safety.

After securing the release of two Fijians from the area, the Second Secretary for the Fiji High Commission in Port Moresby, Emosi Rakai, last week tried for the second time to let Mr Musingku release the remaining six, but to no avail.

The newspaper, The National, reports that Mr Rakai went to Tonu in the hope of persuading the six to leave, but has returned to Port Moresby disappointed.

Bougainville leaders, worried about the law and order situation and any threats to peace on the island, have given the Fijians until December the 20th to move out.

The minister in charge of the Bougainville police, Ezikiel Massatt, and the Vice President of Autonomous Bougainville Government, Joseph Watawi, have appealed to Bougainville ex-combatants not to take the law into their hands.

The two say the Autonomous Bougainville Government will not be responsible for what happens to the Fijians in Tonu.