PNG MILITARY QUIET AFTER RE-APPOINTMENT OF BRIG. GEN. SINGIROK

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (October 16, 1998 - The National)---The situation at Murray Barracks and other military units "is very quiet" following the re-appointment of Brigadier General Jerry Singirok as commander of the 4,000-strong National Defense Force (NDF).

"The situation is very quiet. The First Battalion (of the Royal Pacific island Regiment based at Taurama barracks) is quiet. The soldiers and officers there are very much with the appointment," a source close to Brig. Gen. Singirok told The National.

Brig. Gen. Singirok was commander of 1RPIR and was serving with his men on Bougainville in 1994.

"In fact, all the units throughout the country are happy. The general consensus among the rank and file is -- we need the general. The soldiers are suffering (through lack of inadequate food, low morale, no money to pay leave fares and allowances, etc.) and they need leadership," the source said.

Many soldiers, seamen and airmen regard Brig. Gen. Singirok as "a soldier's soldier" and believe that he would provide the leadership to get the National Defense Force out of its current mess.

Meanwhile, Chief Secretary Robert Igara has called for calm in the NCD and among all officers and men of the National Defense Force.

He said he was reassured by the outgoing commander Brig. Gen. Leo Nuia and Brig. Gen. Singirok that they would both ensure that a smooth and orderly handover would take place.

"I am pleased that both Brigadier General Leo Nuia and Brigadier General Jerry Singirok have met and have agreed to ensure a smooth transition to be marked by the traditional military protocol and ceremonies associated with handover of command," Mr. Igara said.

"I am also pleased that they have called on members of the Papua New Guinea Defense Force to cooperate and avoid any actions which may create tension or further instability."

The chief secretary was speaking after a meeting yesterday morning with Brig. Gen. Singirok, Chief of Staff Colonel David Takendu, acting Police Commissioner Robert Korus, acting secretary for Personnel Management Bill Kua and Foreign Affairs Secretary Peter Tsiamalili.

"I also took the opportunity to place on record my appreciation and those of members of the National Security Advisory Committee (NSAC) and the national Government delegation on the Bougainville issue for the personal commitment and attention which Brigadier General Leo Nuia has given during his term of office. I also wish to extend to the Brigadier General Leo Nuia and his family our good wishes for the future," he said.

Mr. Igara also congratulated Brig. Gen. Singirok on his appointment and expressed confidence that the new commander would continue the strong support and commitment of the National Defense Force to the current peace process and initiatives of the Government on Bougainville.

He also briefed Brig. Gen. Singirok on progress in the Bougainville peace process.

"I am reassured by Brig. Gen. Singirok's commitment that he will treat Bougainville as a matter of high priority and accord his full and personal attention," said Mr. Igara.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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