7 Feb 2006

Fiji says powerless to stop security guards heading to PNG rebel zone

9:15 am on 7 February 2006

The Fiji government says it is powerless to stop the recruitment of its former soldiers to work with private security companies overseas.

The Fiji Times quotes the foreign minister, Kaliopate Tavola, as saying this includes the recruitment of former soldiers by the failed money scam operator, Noah Musingku, on Bougainville in Papua New Guinea.

His comments come after the arrest of 12 Fijian purported mercenaries in Honiara who were on their way to Bougainville through Solomon Islands' Western Province.

The purported mercenaries were recruited and trained by Nausori-based Ronin High Risk Security, the company formed by the leader of the gunmen during the Speight coup, Ilisoni Ligairi.

Mr Tavola says although the government cannot stop the recruitment, locals must think carefully before committing themselves to it.

The purported mercenaries told authorities in Honiara that they were going to Bougainville on church ministry fieldwork.

All of them have an extensive background of overseas military service in Lebanon, Sinai, Iraq, Oman, Bosnia and East Timor.

Five of the eight Fijian ex-soldiers who went to train rebels in Bougainville last year have refused to leave, citing Noah Musingku's promise of US$1,000,000 each.