8 Feb 2006

Bougainville Vice President says border surveillance now more critical

2:20 pm on 8 February 2006

The vice-president of Bougainville says border surveillance has become more urgent after revelations that 12 former Fiji soldiers intended entering the Papua New Guinea province illegally through Solomon Islands.

The Fijians planned to join five other former army colleagues already illegally in south Bougainville.

However, their plans were thwarted by immigration personnel in Honiara and 11 have since been deported.

One escaped and remains the focus of a police hunt in the Solomons capital.

Bougainville vice president, Joseph Watawi, says border surveillance must be stepped up.

"So that there are joint border patrols and in any of those patrols Bougainville must be part of that. In addition to that I think it is important that we review the traditional border crossing that currently exists between Solomon Islands and Bougainville and if at all possible that certain check points be established in this part of the region and also in Solomon Islands."

Joseph Watawi.

During a visit to Honiara last week by the PNG Foreign Minister, Sir Rabbie Namaliu, it was decided that both countries would meet on two occasions this year to discuss border security.