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Introduction:

The Speaker of Papua New Guinea`s Parliament, Bernard Narakobi,

is keenly watching the crises in the South Pacific.

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He is critical of

Australia`s failure to consult with its regional neighbours with a view

to sending a police force to the Solomons. I spoke to him earlier from

Port Moresby.

JANA WENDT:

Bernard Narakobi, welcome to Dateline. PNG has offered to help

out in the Solomons crisis – what can PNG do?

BERNARD NARAKOBI:

The best form of assistance PNG can give is that of engaging in a dialogue,

sharing our experiences in conflict resolution.

JANA WENDT:

Okay, there are competing armed groups in the Solomons – how

do you get into a dialogue with those?

BERNARD NARAKOBI:

Well, we always have armed groups here in our tribal fights, and we always

identify the leaders of different groups and engage them in dialogue,

in discussions, where different groups stake out their claims and a solution

is reached from those discussions.

JANA WENDT:

Okay, you know of course, that Australia received a request from

the Prime Minister and turned him down. Do you think that we let him down

in a time of crisis like this?

BERNARD NARAKOBI:

I would think that Australia acted properly as it was an internal matter,

but looking in hindsight, it may have been better to give some logistical

support and possibly some police officers, possibly from sergeant`s rank

down to assist the police in enforcing the law, because the situation

as we analysed it at the time, was pretty much a tribal conflict situation

between the Guadalcanal people and the Malaitans.

JANA WENDT:

Mr Narakobi, this expression “arc of instability” is getting

a lot of currency at the moment in the South Pacific, why do you think

all this conflict is breaking out at this time in the region?

BERNARD NARAKOBI:

The Melanesian region, as I have always stated, is loosely held

together – inherently fragmented – communities of tribes, villages, languages.

And where this connecting chain weakens – and especially if the state

institutions like the police and the army are not strong – you soon return

to the inherent nature of the Melanesian societies, and that is fragmentation,

and that is tribal and village ethnicity.

JANA WENDT:

And that analysis that you`ve just given me, do you see that

applying to Fiji, for instance a weak army, weak police?

BERNARD NARAKOBI:

The situation in Fiji at that time was that there was a good,

strong army and good, strong police, but it would seem that they took

sides with different interest groups at that point in time.

JANA WENDT:

Do you think that these elements that you say are collaborating

with Mr Speight, do you think they are significant, that is significant

numbers?

BERNARD NARAKOBI:

I would say yes, I would say they are significant enough to put

the nationalist elements in the defence forces on that and to be careful

not to enforce the law in case they fragment and disintegrate the Fiji

community further.

JANA WENDT:

That sounds like a recipe for continued instability, doesn`t

it, in Fiji?

BERNARD NARAKOBI:

Unless Mr Speight gives in to the military, that instability unfortunately

would appear to be set in for the next few months.

JANA WENDT:

Bernard Narakobi, thanks very much for speaking to Dateline.

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