3 Feb 2005

Guns necessary for policing in certain circumstances, says Bougainville Governor

9:17 pm on 3 February 2005

The Governor of the Papua New Guinea island of Bougainville says police there should be armed for special circumstances, such as removing the roadblock at Aropa.

Bougainville leaders have been trying for months to end the Mekamui-backed roadblock at Aropa which is blocking off south Bougainville to Australian, New Zealand and Bougainville police.

The Bougainville Governor, John Momis, says it is the responsibility of the police to remove the roadblock, but they are reluctant to do so, possibly because they are unarmed.

But he says the police should be armed in order to deal with the roadblock, and in certain other circumstances, but be under clear instructions only to use their arms if they come under attack.

"I think people are afraid to change tactics because we have been employing a strategy of achieving peace through peaceful means, and I think we have come to a stage where we might have to seriously consider arming the police for very special circumstances, and we are going to seriously look at this in the next couple of weeks."

Governor Momis also says discussions are under way in the province about how to counter the growing activities of the Mekamui movement of rebel leader Francis Ona and his supporters.