19 Dec 2006

PNG government hopes to have removed Fijians from Bougainville in days

7:24 pm on 19 December 2006

The Papua New Guinea government is hoping that five Fijians who are sought by police will be removed from the autonomous province of Bougainville by Christmas.

The five former Fiji soldiers have reportedly been released from their work running a security detail for the operator of the U-Vistract money scam, Noah Musingku, who is also wanted by police.

They have been on the run in Bougainville since a fatal gunfight in south Bougainville last month.

Recent efforts by the PNG and Bougainville governments, police and the Fiji High Commission in PNG to remove the Fijians, who have been in the country illegally for more than a year, have fallen short.

But the director of the Bougainville Peace and Restoration Office, William Dihm, says the provincial government is working on a plan for a safe pick-up as soon as possible.

"Of course there's been a lot of discussion about the timing of the pick-up and how to pick up, and there was going to be community support for people that might be involved in the pick-up, supporting the police. And the only thing that we're waiting for is an indication from the provincial administration about the timing for this pick-up."

William Dihm