15 Dec 2005

More details about Bougainville rebels' request to Fiji military

10:50 am on 15 December 2005

Further details have emerged in Fiji about a request by rebels in the Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville to the Fiji military to provide troops to guard their self-styled breakaway Royal Government of Papala.

The Daily Post reports that the letter, addressed to the commander, Commodore Bainimarama, was received by the military on July 4th.

The letter, part of which is reproduced on the newspaper's front page today, is signed by one Meshadh Autahe who claims to be the chairman of the Privy Council of the Royal Government of Papala.

Mr Autahe asks Commodore Bainimarama to provide "specially trained soldiers to be employed as special palace and escort guards to the head of state, King David Peii II, on Bougainville Islands."

The letter says that "Royal wages, perks and privileges are no less than a million US dollars per annum person with a minimum contract of two years."

Mr Autahe said the letter was being hand delivered by one of the Fijian purported mercenaries named as having been in Bougainville, whom he styled as "Sir Fereti Rokodi who was recently knighted."

The Fiji military spokesman, Captain Neumi Leweni, says Commodore Bainimarama didn't respond to the letter because they wouldn't support an illegal administration.

Meanwhile, the Papua New Guinea government has stepped up efforts to oust the remaining six Fijian mercenaries from Bougainville.