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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post Courier, Nov. 16) – The Papua New Guinea Government yesterday pulled the plug on Papua New Guinea’s participation in the Australian-funded Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).

The decision has caught the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary’s top brass by surprise, as seven community-policing officers were ready to fly to Honiara, Solomon Islands to join the Participating Police Force.

"I am not aware if Australia has stopped Papua New Guinea participation but we got a letter in relation to the next Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary deployment. The seven officers have already gone through the necessary preparations including medical checks and are waiting for Chief Secretary’s advice before they are deployed," acting Deputy Commissioner (operations) Tony Wagambie said when contacted yesterday.

An official at the RAMSI’s office in Honiara indicated yesterday any decision to terminate Papua New Guinea’s involvement in the regional peacekeeping mission would most likely come from the Papua New Guinea Government.

The fifth Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary contingent has been waiting since Sunday to fly to Australia to undergo a six-week induction course before their deployment to Honiara in January next year. But that has now come undone as Waigani continues to maintain a travel ban on Papua New Guinea public servants visiting Australia in an official capacity. The action is in direct response to the blacklisting of Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and Defense Minister Martin Aini over the Julian Moti saga.

It is understood Sir Michael directed the deployment be ceased as it was considered official duty for a regional program largely funded by Australia.

But the Prime Minister’s press secretary Betha Somare yesterday denied that instructions were given for the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary contingent to cancel its mission. "The Prime Minister has not instructed anybody on that one," she said yesterday.

Government sources say the decision has already been relayed to the Honiara-based Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary contingent commander Anderson Bawa, who has been told that his contingent could be the last.

Papua New Guinea High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, Parai Tamei, was also in the dark when contacted, saying Port Moresby had yet to advise him.

Meanwhile, the National Government has suspended its Chief Secretary Joshua Kalinoe, Defense Force boss Peter Ilau and acting police commissioner Tom Kulunga. National Gazette No.G206 dated November 14, 2006 states the suspension – and the acting appointments – became effective from Saturday, November 11.

Mr. Gideon Oli has been appointed acting Secretary for the Prime Minister’s Department and the National Executive Council. Mr. Fred Sheekiot is the acting Police Commissioner with the revoking of Mr. Kulunga’s appointment together with Mr. Jim Wan as acting Deputy Commissioner of Police. Colonel Francis Agwi is the acting commander of the Papua New Guinea Defense Force.

The Government has not given any reasons for the removal of Kalinoe, Kulunga and Commodore Ilau. But it is understood their fate was decided after an investigation ordered by Sir Michael into the escape to Solomon Islands of accused Australian child-sex offender Julian Moti.

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