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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Jan. 12) – The Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) should make the first move to remove five former Fijian soldiers from the island’s "no go zone," says Papua New Guinea Inter-Government Relations Minister Sir Peter Barter.

The five former members of the Fiji army’s elite counter revolutionary warfare unit (CRW) are allegedly giving military training on Bougainville to supporters of failed fast money scheme operator Noah Musingku.

Quoted in a report yesterday by Radio New Zealand International, Sir Peter said he was seeking the peaceful return of the men to PNG authorities but it could only be possible if the Autonomous Bougainville Government made the first move.

"The National Government’s stand on this is that we have to allow the Autonomous Government of Bougainville who have been given the police powers, to be able to move in to do something to resolve this issue," Sir Peter said. "But we’re reluctant to see them go in with guns, because we know there’s guns down there and we don’t want any further violence on Bougainville."

Sir Peter said arresting and charging Mr. Musingku was the key to ending the crisis involving the five Fijians, who were reportedly promised US$1 million (PGK3.1 million) each and have signed two-year contracts with the "U-Vistract" [pyramid scheme] principal — who still has a National Court warrant pending for his arrest.

The five are part of eight Fijians who flew to Bougainville in November on visitor’s visas to link up with Mr. Musingku. Two of them, Fereti Rodoki and Isaia Baroi, returned to Fiji last weekend after the National Security Advisory Committee ordered their deportation. The third Fijian, Semi Baroi, is still in Port Moresby awaiting his travel ticket.

Mr. Baroi, a former Telecom Fiji employee, told the Fiji Times upon his arrival in Nadi on Tuesday that he went to Bougainville to look at the potential of setting up a telecommunications firm. He said he went to Bougainville as a telecommunication officer unlike the others who visited the island as "security details".

January 12, 2006

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