CALL FOR INQUIRY INTO PNG SANDLINE MERCENARY SETTLEMENT

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (May 17, 1999 – Post-Courier/Abridged)---The Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Andrew Baing, yesterday reiterated earlier calls by the Opposition for a full inquiry into the deal struck by Prime Minister Skate and Dr. Pirouz Hamidian-Rad two weeks ago to settle the Sandline mercenary contract claims out of court.

The action results from a report that a "confidential clause'' had been inserted in the contract to prevent publicity of the terms of the deal, Mr. Baing said.

"The insertion of a ‘confidentiality clause’ smacks of suspicion, non-transparency and is sinister. The settlement deal must be revealed.''

Mr. Baing said that there needed to be a public inquiry.

"The Sandline affair has been subjected to two commissions of inquiry, with clear conclusions and recommendations as to what has to be done by appropriate authorities," Mr. Baing said.

"There was no ‘confidentiality clause’ in the Sandline Contract. Therefore, the public is entitled to know why it is so this time.

"The people of Papua New Guinea must be told of the terms and which side settled for what gains,'' Mr. Baing said.

He also questioned the role and benefits gained by the sole negotiator, Dr. Hamidian-Rad.

He questioned what Dr. Hamidian-Rad's status was to have secretly negotiated the deal without State lawyers, and whether there was anything to be gained from the deal.

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

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