9 Sep 2004

Key Bougainville leader welcomes Australian police

7:14 am on 9 September 2004

A key leader on the Papua New Guinea island of Bougainville says Australian police will play a key part in securing peace after ten years of warfare.

The President of the Peoples Congress, Joseph Kabui, made the comments after eight Australian police officers were welcomed yesterday in the capital Buka.

The police are the first of Australia's new assistance programme to start work in PNG.

It's hoped their presence will help local officers help to keep order as part of the peace process, following a decade of war in the nineties.

Mr Kabui says the islanders are trying to show that Bougainville can stand tall with the rest of the world.

He describes Australia as the big brothers of the Pacific, but he says the police deployment shows it cares about its brothers in Bougainville.

The Australian commander of the police contingent Barry Turner, says the welcome parade has been held to show the people of Bougainville that the Australian police aren't there in an authoritarian capacity.

Bougainville's assistant commissioner of police, Joe Bemu, says his colleagues have been given new uniforms.

Mr Bemu says the unarmed officers are taking a community-minded approach.