16 Mar 2004

Bougainville leader backs Australian deployment to PNG

4:18 pm on 16 March 2004

The president of the Bougainville People's Congress says his assembly welcomes a proposed deployment of Australian police in Papua New Guinea.

Joseph Kabui says the issue of immunity is irrelevant and would not affect the Australian police on the island.

His comments come amid a stand-off between Port Moresby and Canberra over whether to grant Australian personnel immunity and for them to be only accountable to Australian courts.

Talks in Sydney yesterday saw Australia soften its position and propose a compromise.

Mr Kabui says by integrating Australian advisers and trainers into the Bougainville police force, the immunity question would no longer matter.

He has told the Post Courier newspaper that before the blockade during the civil war, Bougainville was the envy of all provinces.