The president of the autonomous Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville, John Momis, says his government lacks the means to impose law and order.
Mr Momis has condemned the destruction last weekend of three ships that had been commandeered a month earlier in Buka harbour.
The vessels were taken over by armed ex-militants and the grieving relatives of Bougainvilleans who drowned in the Rabaul Queen ferry disaster on February the 2nd off the coast of Morobe.
Mr Momis says there was little the government could do to get the people to leave the vessels, because the police, who do not carry guns, are not adequately enabled to do their work.
"So it's a difficult situation. The only thing we had was to persuade them by talking sense to them and that only works when you're responding in the right fashion, you know, there has to be a mutuality of understanding and a certain level of critical awareness between the parties, but that didn't happen because the ex-combatants didn't want to listen."