28 Dec 2005

Deadline runs out for former Fiji soldiers in PNG's Bougainville

8:33 am on 28 December 2005

According to reports from Papua New Guinea, a deadline ran out at midnight last night for five former Fiji commandos to leave the island of Bougainville.

The men have been in the province for several months, giving military training to supporters of the money scheme operator, Noah Musingku, in a southern rebel-held area.

They were part of a group of eight, but three gave themselves up, after negotiations with a Fiji diplomat, assisted by leaders of the Me'ekamui group, which controls the Siwai district.

The autonomous Bougainville government had given the men until today to leave or it would use force to remove them.

Local police are forbidden from entering the Me'ekamui no-go zone and they're not armed, in accordance with the provincial peace agreement.

The district officer at Arawa, Otto Naruka, says senior Me'ekamui commanders and locals want the Fijians to go.