20 Mar 2007

PNG's Chan has no regrets about Sandline

1:35 pm on 20 March 2007

Ten years after Papua New Guinea's Sandline crisis, the former prime minister, Sir Julius Chan, says he has no regrets about calling in mercenaries to try to resolve the Bougainville conflict.

Sir Julius was forced to step down as prime minister in March 1997 after then PNG Defence Force commander Jerry Singirok led military and public opposition to the use of Sandline International mercenaries.

Sir Julius says the Bougainville Revolutionary Army criminals had to be dealt with as valuable resources were being wasted on trying to end the conflict through peaceful means.

He says he would not change any of the major decisions he made on the Sandline contract.

Mr Singirok lost his job over the affair but he has told the AAP news agency that his conscience is quite clear that what he did prevented genocide and prevented international condemnation and sanctions against Papua New Guinea.

The Bougainville war saw a truce later in 1997 and was formally ended in 2001.