26 Jun 2006

Bougainville police minister says negotiations continuing over money scam operator

2:17 pm on 26 June 2006

Bougainville's Minister of Police, Ezekiel Masatt, says negotiations are continuing with supporters of the money scam operator, Noah Musingku, to end a roadblock in the south and to surrender.

He says the police in the Papua New Guinea autonomous province hope that a peaceful solution can be found but there is a time limit on the negotiations and they are looking at other options.

Mr Masatt says these include using police, who have recently been re-armed, to go in and end the stand-off.

The police minister says Musingku, who's alleged to have been training a private militia containing some fugitive Fijians, is well aware that time is running out.

"They are aware. Consequently, there's been reports that Musingku has abandoned his camp. He has abandoned his Fijian friends. Consequently, there's been overtures made by the Fijian High Commission to assist in whatever way possible to extract his men."

Mr Masatt says it's been made very clear to Fiji's High Commissioner that safe passage for the five men will only be granted as far as Buka because they will then have to face the courts.

He says two Bougainville MPs, Michael Komoiki and Wilfred Komba, are leading the negotiating committee which has up to two months left of a three month limit to conclude a peaceful settlement.

Mr Masatt says if police and ex-combatants are properly trained and resourced, action may be taken prior to that.