5 Feb 2005

PNG police consider manning Bougainville roadblock

7:12 am on 5 February 2005

Authorities on the Papua New Guinea island of Bougainville are considering appointing special constables to replace rebels manning a road block that is frustrating preparations for the province's historic elections in May.

A faction of the rebel Mekamui grouping has blocked police for weeks from entering south Bougainville.

Assistant Police Commissioner, Joe Bemu, the senior police officer on the island, says the Mekamui faction claim that some of the foreign police on the island could be mercenaries.

Assistant Commissioner Bemu says that' not the case, but to allay the rebels' fears, one idea is to have the special constables, along with regular police, take the place of the rebels while their concerns are looked into.

He says it would give a chance for normalcy to return.

"W could probably do it properly and having the concern of those in the faction and the government, so that we could man the road block, the police. Then normalcy can resume. It also caters for the interests of the Mekamuis so that it is done properly and doesn't cause any great danger to anyone."