17 Feb 2005

New Zealand police regret the impact of lack of action over Bougainville roadblock

9:16 pm on 17 February 2005

New Zealand police working on the Papua New Guinea island of Bougainville say they regret that they will not be able to pay community police in the south for some time.

Provincial leaders have criticised New Zealand for not finding a way to pay community police based at Buin, despite an ongoing roadblock at Aropa.

The roadblock is maintained by a rebel faction and is understood to mainly target Australian police, who work with New Zealand and Bougainville police on Bougainville.

Superintendent Athol Soper, the team leader for New Zealand police on Bougainville, says New Zealand police cannot break a joint police agreement and break the roadblock.

"We're continuing to negotiate with the administration and the [police] assistant commissioner, and until we get authority from the assistant commissioner we will not go through the roadblock or find alternative means around it, because that may place the safety of our staff at risk."

Superintendent Athol Soper.