24 May 2006

Musingku losing more support says Bougainville Vice President

3:38 pm on 24 May 2006

The government in the autonomous Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville says support for the money scam operator Noah Musingku is waning with more supporters leaving him.

Two weeks ago rebels, thought to be working for Mr Musingku, shot at police and burned down several government buildings in the south of Bougainville island.

This prompted the government to unveil plans to make former rebels special constables, while PNG cabinet minister, Sam Akoitai, who is a Bougainvillean MP, is to try and mediate with Mr Musingku.

The vice president of the ABG, Joseph Watawi, says Mr Musingku has in the meantime lost more support with some of those people contacting the government.

"A lot of young men have actually come into some realisation about what they were doing - and this is some of the comment we have got - some of these young men when they were engaged by this guy [Musingku] under his instruction to burn houses, to burn government stations, and they said, what is this? are we forming a government or what, why are we burning these houses?"

The New Zealand Foreign Minister, Winston Peters, who has been in Port Moresby, says the money scam operator must not be allowed to stop the peace process.

The Post Courier newspaper reports Mr Peters saying his government supports the efforts for a dialogue among the parties to ensure that Mr Musingku doesn't disrupt the still fragile peace process.

Mr Peters says it wants to see that Bougainvilleans do not feel threatened by what has been happening on the island.