By THOMAS HUKAHU
A PLANNED peaceful handing-over of a submission by a group of more than 50 ex-soldiers to the Finance Department heads almost turned nasty when government officials were slow in attending to them.
Words and tempers flared for about 15 minutes at midday last Friday as a security personnel tried to keep the ex-soldiers out after several of them took a banner into the Morauta House premises.
The ex-servicemen were there to make a submission and not to present a petition as some other groups had made previously, Andy Billy Koldop, spokesperson for the group of 1360 ex-servicemen who were retrenched in 2001 to 2006, said.
Koldop said their group was disassociating itself from other groups that were petitioning the government for the K187 million.
After 10minutes, when the ex-soldiers were calmed down by their colleagues, a few government officials arrived to receive the submission.
The ex-servicemen said that the Finance Department requested the ex-soldiers to come forward with a legally bound submission with supporting documents for their entitlements to be paid out.
“That is what we are doing and we want the submission to be received publicly,” Koldop said.
The ex-soldiers said that there were other individuals who acted on their behalf in the past but did not put forward a good submission and they did not want these people to be their leaders.
“This is not a case of who wants to be a leader; all we want is for the government to pay us our entitlements so that we can go home to live with our people,” Godfrey Aisi, an ex-solider, said.
Koldop, Aisi and others had earlier reassured that their group would not cause any further protests.
They said all they wanted was for their entitlements to be paid.