23 Nov 2005

Fiji opposition notes government silence on Fiji ex-soldiers' role in Bougainville

7:28 pm on 23 November 2005

Fiji's deputy opposition leader, Poseci Bune, has questioned the Qarase government on the presence of Fiji mercenaries in Bougainville, saying it has remained silent on the issue.

Radio Fiji quotes Mr Bune as saying that fixing Pacific problems is more important than attending the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Malta, where Fiji is represented by the foreign minister, Kaliopate Tavola.

Mr Bune has told parliament that Mr Tavola must play his part in this Pacific crisis because he is the chairman of the Forum's Eminent Persons Group.

He said Fiji's former soldiers are causing insecurity in a fellow member state of the Melanesian Spearhead Group and yet the government is too embarrassed to say anything constructive or to offer a public apology to the PNG government.

Mr Bune said the latest reports are of another 45 former soldiers preparing to go to Bougainville, yet the foreign minister has left for Malta.

He said mending relations with Fiji's immediate neighbour is more urgent and critical, particularly on the serious issue of political interference by Fiji nationals in the affairs of a fellow member state.

Meanwhile, the wife of one of the Fiji men in Bougainville says she is not worried about her husband because she is receiving regular messages from him through the Ronin High Risk Security company which sent the men there.