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Date Posted: 02:40:22 04/04/06 Tue
Author: Vikki John
Subject: Bougainville: Unity must be priority to keep the peace

Post-Courier Editorial, 3 April 2006

Unity must be priority to keep the peace

For the past five months, authorities in Bougainville and Waigani have been grappling with the delicate problem. How to deal with failed money scheme operator Noah Musingku and his band of renegades in Tonu, in the Siwai area of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. Musingku and his scam have brought in ex-Fijian soldiers to train young Bougainvilleans as security officers for his operations. The Fijians entered the country under the guise of being missionary workers. They are in fact men Musingku recruited and had money paid into his pyramid scheme. They were promised millions of dollars in return for their investments, just like thousands of Papua New Guineans. The recruitment of the Fijians has caused a lot of strain on the delicate arrangements of government for Bougainville. The elected authority on the ground — the Autonomous Government of Bougainville — has been dragging its feet on what to do about the Fijians and Musingku. That is understandable as into the equation must come considerations of repercussions whatever action the ABG takes. One problem that has compounded movement to solve the problem by the ABG and the Papua New Guinea Government is the other party on the ground in Bougainville, the Me’ekamui government. This is the self-proclaimed government of the hardcore independence movement on Bougainville. Although not an elected government, it represents a political group whose position must be taken into account in negotiations and dealings on Bougainville. The Me’ekamui government was once closely associated with Musingku and U-Vistract. Me’ekamui has it own army which is armed to this day, despite the no arms policy throughout the region. Me’ekamui soldiers provided security for U-Vistract. One can only guess the rewards for Me’ekamui for that arrangement. With Me’ekamui’s association with U-Vistract, it was always going to be a tricky situation for the ABG and the PNG Government to deal decisively with Musingku and his lot on the issue of the recruiting of the Fijian soldiers. Now the door has suddenly been flung open for the efforts mounted to eject the Fijians from Bougainville to be stepped up a notch. In an unprecedented move, Me’ekamui announced on Friday it had severed ties with U-Vistract and publicly labelled the operation illegal. It said it will have no further dealings with the scheme, urging Musingku to discontinue all his operations. This must be welcome news for authorities on Bougainville and Waigani to move in on Musingku. The man is a conman, he must be arrested and forced to face the law.

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