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By Aloysius Laukai

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, May 12) – The Autonomous Bougainville Government had resolved to use force to go after illegal money scheme operator Noah Musingku and the Me’ekamui forces supporting him.

Autonomous Bougainville Government president Joseph Kabui announced yesterday that his government has decided to engage 30 ex-combatants and arm them with weapons to assist the Bougainville police flush out Musingku, his followers and the Me’ekamui forces.

This followed an attack on Bougainville police in Buin and Siwai by Me’ekamui soldiers on Wednesday. Two Fijian soldiers employed by Musingku were allegedly among the attackers. They fired at the police vehicle in Buin, and torched a police post in Panakei, Siwai.

No one was killed or injured in the attacks.

The Autonomous Bougainville Government convened an urgent meeting yesterday and, after being briefed on the attacks, authorized the use of force.

Mr. Kabui said the Autonomous Bougainville Government regarded the action by Me’ekamui and U-Vistract in Siwai and Buin as a direct attack on them aimed at undermining the legitimate government of the autonomous region of Bougainville.

He said the Autonomous Bougainville Government cannot sit by and allow the law and order situation in South Bougainville to worsen.

Mr. Kabui said, from the start, the Autonomous Bougainville Government had always opted to deal with Me’ekamui - U-Vistract and the presence of Fijians in Tonu - through dialogue and by peaceful means.

"Today, the Autonomous Bougainville Government was formally briefed on the security situation and the briefs received have confirmed that there had been an upsurge in military activity and other associated law and order problems in South Bougainville. The brief also confirmed the involvement of two Fijian nationals," said Mr. Kabui.

"The Autonomous Bougainville Government wants to restore immediate security to South Bougainville using the Bougainville police. The people of South Bougainville deserve to live in a peaceful environment, free from violence and threat. Because arms are being used, the Autonomous Bougainville Government has approved the use of arms by the Bougainville police for the purpose of this operation only," he continued.

"The Autonomous Bougainville Government has also approved the engagement of 30 ex-combatants as special constables under the Police Force Act 1998, only for the duration of the special operation. The former combatants will work under the command of the Bougainville police to restore law and order in South Bougainville," Mr. Kabui said.

President Kabui also stressed that Autonomous Bougainville Government will handle the security situation in South Bougainville in a Bougainvillean way and will not use outside help.

He said coming from a crisis situation, Bougainville had learnt hard lessons in dealing with such sensitive situations.

He said the Autonomous Bougainville Government has the funds to support the police operations for the next three months.

May 15, 2006

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