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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post Courier, March 3) – A United Nations working group on mercenaries has asked the Fiji and Papua New Guinea governments to allow a team to investigate the presence of former Fijian soldiers on the Papua New Guinea island of Bougainville.

Five Fijians are with notorious conman and self-proclaimed king Noah Musingku in a rebel-held no-go zone in the south of the Papua New Guinea autonomous region where they are reportedly training his private security force. Three other Fijians were coaxed out with the assistance of Fijian diplomats in December.

Last month, a dozen other Fijians were sent home after being sprung in the Solomon Islands capital of Honiara while planning to illegally enter Bougainville to join Musingku.

Papua New Guinea, Bougainvillean, and Fijian authorities fear the former Fijian soldiers could undermine the peace process on the troubled island where a bloody secessionist conflict raged through the 1990s claiming up to 20,000 lives.

[PIR editor’s note: Fiji government officials have stated that they are powerless to stop Fijians from being recruited by private security companies, including recruitment by conman Musingku (read related story).]

Shaista Shameem, the Asia-Pacific member of the five-person United Nations working group and director of the Fiji Human Rights Commission, said yesterday that the Fijians’ presence had regional security ramifications. "What has happened on Bougainville has illustrated the need to keep tight control on the movement of former soldiers in the region," she said.

Mr. Musingku, who calls himself King Peii II of the kingdom of Papala, is wanted by authorities over a scam that has duped thousands of investors in Bougainville along with others in Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Fiji.

March 3, 2006

PNG Post Courier Online: www.postcourier.com.pg/

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