14 Dec 2005

South Bougainville authority says rebels want Fijian soldiers to leave

3:16 pm on 14 December 2005

Authorities closest to the rebel zones in the Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville say most local people want six former Fiji soldiers to get out.

The money scheme operator Noah Musingku hired the men to provide military training to his followers at Tonu near Siwai in southern Bougainville.

The latest diplomatic bid to have the men leave appears to have failed, with some militants now threatening to use force to evict them if they don't leave by Tuesday.

The district officer in Arawa, Otto Naruka, wants the Fijians to be turned over to national police.

Mr Naruka says the work the Fijians are doing in the Me'ekamui no-go-zone, isn't in line with their visas.

"This office has got constant contact with the local Me'ekamuis, most of them, even the commanders are not very happy, with foreigners integrating into Bougainville, and the majority of the Bougainvilleans are not very happy, because this is a very bad precedent when foreigners are just coming in and out from Bougainville."

Mr Naruka also complains a Fijian diplomat bypassed his office when working to extract the two ringleaders of the Fiji group.