PNG COMMODORE ACCEPTS SUSPENSION

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post Courier, November 18) – Suspended Papua New Guinea Defence Force commander Commodore Peter Ilau has handed over reins to the Cabinet-appointed acting commander Colonel Francis Agwi.

Col Agwi took office as of 11:30 yesterday morning after a brief handover by Commodore Ilau. "I wish to formally advise the public that I am now dismounting duties as the commander of PNGDF for an unspecific period," Commodore Ilau said adding he accepted the National Executive Council’s (NEC) decision but says there have not been explanations although military and higher level investigations had cleared him of involvement in the Julian Moti case as he was overseas.

It is understood the suspension is related to the Moti case. He said the Prime Minister’s department delivered the suspension document to him at 3.50pm on Wednesday without a copy of the NEC decision. "I accept their decision. I will not take any court action at this stage and will await its future decisions when it comes."

Acting commander Col Agwi is all geared up to continue the current developments within the force during the three months of his appointment. While he pledged continuity of programs, he will not be making any changes in the force, and there will be limitations to overseas travels. "I will be looking at limiting the number of overseas travels. We (PNGDF) are trying to look at a cost saving exercise within the force. We want to see that we limit overseas travel, we will be saving some money that we could use in other areas within the force," Col Agwi said. But this limitation does not affect invitations from Defence Force organisations overseas. "We will look at all invitations on a case by case basis. If it is of benefit to us then we say yes to that invitation," Mr Agwi said,while thanking the national government for the confidence shown through the acting appointment.

The developments to be continued include the downsizing program (retrenchment exercise), regional assistance mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI), and administrative matters. The engagement by engineers in some provinces working on deteriorating roads and bridges, and deployment of troops in the State of Emergency in Southern Highlands, will be looked at.

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