REPORT SAYS PNG DEFENSE FORCE OVER MANAGED

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (February 5, 2001 - Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat)---A report recommending changes in the Papua New Guinea Defense Force’s management and training has been sent to Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta for review.

The report, partially funded by the Australian government, was compiled by an international eminent persons group with assistance from the Commonwealth Secretary General, Don McKinnon of New Zealand.

The four senior Commonwealth officials are prominent Papua New Guinea economist and former Director of Hawai‘i’s East-West Center’s Pacific Islands Development Program Charles Lepani, Australian Defense Force Major General Philip Jeffery, Jamaican Judge Hugh Small, and former New Zealand Defense Secretary Gerald Hensley.

In an interview with Pacific Beat’s Bruce Hill, Hensley said there are serious problems within the Defense Force that need to be resolved.

The PNG announced the review after recent incidents involving the Force, including a riot by soldiers in Port Moresby.

"There were troubles in the beginning of September in Papua New Guinea," he said. "This led the Commonwealth Secretary General to appoint a Commonwealth group to look at the problems in the Defense Force and address some solutions."

The team conducted a two-week survey of the Force.

Although he can’t reveal details of the report, Hensley said some of the problems in the Force include over management, over centralization, and lack of consistent training of officers.

"Our recommendations will address those problems in a way that we think is fiscally sustainable by the Papua New Guinea government," he added.

Hensley denied rumors that call for the Defense Force to be cut by one-third.

"That’s not what we recommended," he said.

The prime minister is expected to release the report to the public after members of his Cabinet review it.

"It’s been a very difficult time for the Defense Force," Hensley said. "There’s a legacy of 10 years of conflict in Bougainville. There is quite a lot work to be done."

For additional reports from Radio Australia/Pacific Beat, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia/Pacific Beat.

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