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By Isaac Nicholas

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Aug. 14) –Papua New Guinea will not change its Constitution to revive the Enhanced Cooperation Programme (ECP), Foreign Affairs Minister Sir Rabbie Namaliu said.

"There will be no constitutional change. We have put forward our options and we hope they agree to come in under existing laws," he said when he confirmed on Friday that Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer would be visiting PNG after the Melanesian Spearhead Group meeting currently underway in Goroka.

He said changing the Constitution for the sake of ECP alone was not good.

"We both agreed on that and we are now addressing the question of when and how to move forward," he said.

He said if the options made by the PNG government to Australia were accepted, ECP personnel could be back in the country in a short period of time.

Sir Rabbie said an Australian police commissioner and other police personnel had served in the PNG police force before and they had helped draft the laws/

"We believe there are sufficient legal protections under the existing laws.

"We have never had any complaints from them. Ultimately, it’s something that we will discuss and hopefully we can go on from there," he said.

Sir Rabbie said Australia’s concern was about corruption and that same concern was shared by the PNG government.

"We want their specialists in the fraud and anti-corruption squads to help us build our capacity, including training of police personnel to deal with the issue of corruption."

Sir Rabbie said both countries wanted the ECP to continue and the community at large was also asking whether the programme would continue.

"But if it cannot be in the same form then it is likely to end up in court again," he said.

Monday, August 15, 2005

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