1 Feb 2006

Fiji soldiers in Bougainville cause schools to stay closed

2:18 pm on 1 February 2006

The continued presence of five former Fiji soldiers in the Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville has caused some schools in the area to delay opening for the new school year.

The Autonomous Bougainville Government says it remains deeply concerned that the soldiers remain at Tonu at the south of Bougainville island despite numerous calls for them to leave.

The soldiers were brought in by a scam operator Noah Musingku to provide security for his so called bank.

The ABG Vice President, Joseph Watawi, says they still hope for a peaceful resolution and are encouraging dialogue, but the soldiers' presence is an immediate threat to the peace process.

"We are also concerned about the schools which are supposed to be open, particularly the Tonu High School and the Tonu Primary School. At the moment they are not open. People are actually sending kids to go to school over there but with the presence of the Fijians they are not certain about the safety of their kids over there."

Joseph Watawi