This website has not been updated for some years. As of September 2004, a new website - Solidarity South Pacific - has superseded this, though this website has been left as it may still contain useful content.

Bougainville Archive

This page carries December 1998's Bougainville news updates. You can find the latest updates here, and more archives here

If you don't know what all this is about, Bougainville - The long struggle for freedom tells the whole story of the colonialisation, successful revolution and continuing war being waged against the life of Bougainville by western governments on behalf of corporations.

Index: December 1998

Australia, B'ville 'Relations Improve'

CANBERRA: Relations between Australia and Bougainville had improved remarkably since Australian forces went there just over 12 months ago as part of the Peace Monitoring Group, Australian Defence Minister John Moore said yesterday.

Mr Moore was in Bougainville visiting Australian peacekeepers preparing for Christmas on the troubled island. "Bearing in mind some time ago that relations of Bougainvilleans with Australia were a bit strained, the turnaround in the position I think has been quite remarkable" he told ABC Radio. "Working with the people in their villages, in their communities and their churches has brought about this change of heart. I met with the local authorities and they were very complimentary." Mr Moore said local people were gathering to discuss a constitutional basis for a future for Bougainville. "They appear to be quite confident they can reach some agreement which crosses all the boundaries here. If that's the case, well we can look forward to the new year to some improvement in that area" he said. "The Papua New Guinea Government has yet to pass the necessary legislation to incorporate this, but once that's done and if the goodwill continues then we can look forward to some outcome in the early part of 1999."

Source: The National - 24 Dec 98

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B'ville Govt must be Within Constitution: Skate

PORT MORESBY: Prime Minister Bill Skate has instructed Chief Secretary Robert Igara and Attorney General Michael Gene to ensure that any reconciliation government set up on Bougainville is within the framework of the Constitution.

There has been some concern following a report quoting Bougainville Transitional Government Premier Gerard Sinato that Mr Skate and his Government would recognise the proposed Bougainville People's Congress. The BPC was set up following a meeting of Bougainville leaders after Parliament's failure to pass a constitutional amendment bill to establish a Bougainville Reconciliation Government on Jan 1. A communique announcing the formation of BPC was signed by Mr Sinato and rebel leaders Joseph Kabui and Sam Kauona.

Bougainville leaders are currently meeting to decide the framework of the government and endorse a constitution to be later ratified by a congress. Some lawyers have questioned how the Government can recognise the BPC which has been set up outside the framework of the constitution and the Organic Law on Provincial and Local Level Governments. Mr Skate told reporters yesterday he did not want to interfere but was concerned that some form of reconciliation government is set up within the Constitution. He will issue a detailed statement after receiving a thorough brief from the Attorney-General, he said. The Prime Minister has deferred his visit to Bougainville because his presence there now when the leaders are meeting to decide on the reconciliation government would send out a "wrong signal" that his Government supported what the leaders are doing.

Source: By NEVILLE TOGAREWA - The National - 24 Dec 98

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We'll Fight Move to Impose Govt Reforms: Kabui

RABAUL: Bougainville Transitional Government (BTG) and rebel leaders will resist any moves to implement the provincial government reforms in Bougainville, rebel leader Joseph Kabui has said.

Mr Kabui said they will not allow Bougainville to fall under the Organic Law on Provincial and Local Level Governments when BTG's term expires on Dec 31. "It is now the strong position of the BTG and the rebel leaders to resist any move by any of the parties to allow Bougainville to operate within the scope of the reform law" he said. He was responding from Arawa to Opposition leader Bernard Narokobi's statement last week that Bougainville would automatically be covered by the Organic law with the four national MPs becoming members of the provincial government once BTG's term expires. "Such views from leaders of his (Mr Narokobi's) calibre are misleading and not in the best interest of the people involved in the peace process" said Mr Kabui. He said the Bougainville peace process was started during the Burnham talks in New Zealand last year after nine years of bloodshed with the aim of establishing a peaceful consultation process to negotiate the issues in contention for reaching a lasting political settlement between the Government of PNG and the Bougainvilleans.

Mr Kabui said the signing of a communique by Bougainville leaders two weeks ago announcing the setting up of a reconciliation government after Parliament failed to pass bills allowing the formation of BRG was done to let the negotiation process continue. "It is wrong to think that allowing Bougainville to fall under the reform law (after Parliament had failed to pass constitutional amendments) or the formation of the BRG itself will bring an end to the negotiation process" he said. Mr Kabui said the current consultations and negotiations between the people of Bougainville and the National Government will continue until the two parties reach a lasting political settlement. He said the formation of the BRG will still be regarded by Bougainvilleans as part of the transitional process towards reaching a lasting political settlement.

Mr Kabui also said more than 60 leaders including rebel commanders, chiefs, and BTG officials had begun their meeting in Arawa to discuss a draft constitution of the BRG. He said the leaders will adopt the constitution today, adding that a copy of the constitution will be sent to the Government for consultation before implementing it.

Source: By PHILIP KEPSON - The National (PNG) - 23 Dec 98

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B'ville Peace Vital for Australia, says Yaki

CAIRNS: Peace on Bougainville was vital for Australia's long term investments in PNG, as well as the viability of the country's economy, Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Roy Yaki said here yesterday.

Addressing the Australia-PNG Ministerial Forum, Mr Yaki said Australia had an important role to play in ending the Bougainville crisis and contributing to the overall economic and political stability of his country. He linked peace on Bougainville to the long-term viability of Australia's extensive resource sector investments in his country, which include the A$3 billion (K4 billion) gas pipeline project.

Australia has committed A$100 million over five years to help reconstruct the Bougainville economy and society after nine years of civil war, over and above money already committed to aid projects in PNG. Australia has also agreed to accelerate funding for Bougainville infrastructure projects in an effort to speed up the peace process in the troubled province. While the five-year A$100 million Bougainville aid budget remains in place, both countries have agreed to changes in the way development and budget aid is delivered after 2000.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said a new incentive fund, as part of the development aid budget, was designed to increase the performance of government and non-government agencies in the delivery of aid money. "There are no changes, PNG will continue to run projects" Mr Downer said. "One of the problems is that people are not sure what aid money does or where it goes, this shouldn't create any problems with accountability." It was agreed aid would be maintained at A$300 million for the period July 2000 to June 2003, with the way it is administered to be refined to ensure projects better meet the development needs of PNG.

Mr Yaki said the considerable structural reforms set down in the PNG budget should satisfy concerns about waste and inefficiency raised by aid donors, including Australia. He said the reforms to PNG's public sector, which will cut 7,000 jobs, and the introduction of a value added tax (VAT) would help to reduce the country's budget deficit and convince donor organisations and governments of PNG's commitment to private sector investment. Mr Yaki told a media conference the PNG delegation would go home satisfied that Australia would not try to pressure the PNG parliament into prematurely passing amendments to their constitution regarding Bougainville. "We believe Australia will respect the type of final settlement we come up with on Bougainville" Mr Yaki said. "We have 19 provinces, smaller in size but just as difficult to manage and our dealings with one will always be a factor in the way other provinces will respond."

The two governments agreed to speed up the delivery of infrastructure funding on Bougainville, particularly in the areas of roads, health, education and humanitarian aid. It was also agreed Australia will continue to assist with training of police in Bougainville.

Source: The National (PNG) - 23 Dec 98

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PNG says Bougainville one of its Greatest Political Challenges

The Papua New Guinea Government says the ongoing Bougainville conflict is one of the major political challenges in the country's 23-year history.

Foreign Minister, Roy Yaki, was speaking at the annual talks between Australia and PNG being held in Cairns. Mr Yaki has thanked Australia for its lead role in the international peace-keeping force working to restore peace on the Pacific island. Of course, there are minor matters of concern, but overall we are pleased with Australia, New Zealand and other Pacific countries tht have come toegther to support PNG's endeavour to overcome the nine-year conflict on the island of Bougainville.
1998 Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Source: Radio Australia - 13:45:01 (AEDT) - 22 Dec 98

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60 B'ville Leaders to Discuss Draft Constitution

RABAUL: More than 60 Bougainville leaders arrived yesterday in Arawa to debate a draft constitution of the Bougainville Reconciliation Government (BRG) before adopting it later this week, rebel leader Joseph Kabui said last night.

Mr Kabui said the leaders who came from the three districts included rebel commanders and officials, chiefs and Bougainville Transitional Government members and technical officers led by Premier Gerard Sinato. "About 60 leaders of the different factions including Premier Gerard Sinato are here tonight" he said. Mr Kabui said consultation among Bougainvilleans on the adoption of the constitution was in line with the joint communique they signed about two weeks ago in which they announced the setting up of the BRG. The communique was signed by Mr Kabui, Mr Sinato, and rebel commander Sam Kauona following Parliament's failure to pass constitutional amendments to form BRG. The communique had stated that they would come up with a draft (constitution) for the proposed BRG to establish a Bougainville People's Congress by the end of this month.

Mr Kabui said their technical officers had already come up with a draft of the constitution, adding that the leaders will debate it starting today with the hope of adopting it tomorrow. Mr Kabui said the copy of the constitution will be made available to the Government to allow necessary consultations among parties to the peace process before the congress would convene its first sitting early January next year. He said all inputs in the constitution came from the BTG and the rebel faction in line with the communique but the leaders were ready to hold consultations with the Government before implementing the constitution. "We have held consultations with the Government and we are ready to hold consultation once the constitution is adopted to make necessary arrangements with the parties for a smooth transition of BTG to BRG" he said.

Source: By PHILIP KEPSON - The National - 22 Dec 98

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Narokobi Misleading Nation on B'ville, says PM

PORT MORESBY: Prime Minister Bill Skate has accused Opposition Leader Bernard Narokobi of deliberately misleading the nation in relation to his latest statements pertaining to Bougainville.

Mr Narokobi recently called on the Prime Minister to resign, citing Parliament's failure to pass the Constitutional amendments affecting Bougainville. The Opposition Leader said this week the Government should accept responsibility for not mustering the required 83 votes to pass this important piece of legislation. He said the head of government of any other democratic country would resign if such a thing happened. Mr Skate said he shook his head in sorrow when he read Mr Narokobi's comments. "I am extremely disappointed that a leader of Mr Narokobi's calibre and standing would come down this low and accuse me and my Government of being irresponsible" he said. "If there is anyone who should resign, it should be Mr Narokobi and Bougainville Regional Member, John Momis. The vote on Constitutional Amendment Law (1998) to allow for the establishment of a Bougainville Reconciliation Government (BRG) was 57 in favour and 1 against. Hansard records show that every Government Minister and backbencher who were not detained away from the Parliament for legitimate reasons were in the Chamber for the vote. I personally made sure all available government MPs were present for this crucial vote. On the other hand, the Leader of the Opposition and Mr Momis, were unable to organise and have all Opposition MPs available for the vote."

Mr Skate said the Opposition Leader and his dwindling group of followers showed the nation in the last session of Parliament that they were more interested in playing politics than working with the Government to bring about lasting peace in Bougainville.

Source: The National - 22 Dec 98

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PNG Army Commander tells Troops he wants Better Discipline

Papua New Guinea's Defence Minister has told soldiers attending a reconciliation parade at Defence Headquarters in Port Moresby that he wants to see a ten-fold improvement in discipline next year.

Sean Dorney reports that the reconciliation parade followed a freedom of the city march through the streets of Port Moresby led by the Major who threw the mercenaries out of PNG last year. Major Walter Enuma has in fact been court martialed and sentenced to five years in prison for mutiny. But he's out on bail while an appeal is being heard. The recently reinstated Commander, Brigadier General Jerry Singirok, who is himself facing sedition charges, chose Major Enuma to lead the Freedom Of The City march which was the culmination of what Singirok has called Reconciliation Week, the aim being to reunify a badly factionalised force. The Defence Minister, Peter Waieng, praised the troops for their turn out but told them he wanted a ten fold improvement in discipline in the PNG Defence Force in 1999.
1998 Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Source: Radio Australia - 06:45:00 1998 (AEDT) - 18 Dec 98

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B'ville seeks Benefits of Peace - McKinnon - 17 Dec 98

PORT MORESBY: New Zealand Foreign Minister Don McKinnon senses a growing restlessness on Bougainville as its people await the fruits of an uneasy peace.

Mr McKinnon, a key figure last year in bringing peace to the Papua New Guinea- governed island after 10 years of bloody civil war, visited seven Bougainville villages yesterday. At public meetings he noted vocal demands for the benefits that were expected to follow peace - education, jobs and better health care. He also expressed disquiet that young males - many former rebel soldiers in a civil war estimated to have cost 20,000 lives - acted aloof when speeches reiterating the need for peace were being made. Mr McKinnon told NZPA it was important that meaningful projects were set up to offer evidence of the dividends peace provided, and to teach skills to those who had missed out on education during the war. "There were some pretty strong messages given to their politicians from people on the ground ... 'look, you've given us peace, but where's the dividend?' I have been maintaining what I think is a fairly simple message -- it's all about restoration and getting the economy going. Those young kids have got to be occupied. If they haven't had any education, we have to assist getting them skilled in something, so that lack of education is somewhat accounted for" Mr McKinnon said.

Former rebel soldiers completed one such project - the construction of a TB and leprosy ward at Arawa Hospital in the capital. Mr McKinnon opened the ward, a Volunteer Service Abroad project backed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and indicated his wish for that type of work to continue. Young men are being blamed for petty crime on Bougainville - three Red Cross vehicles have apparently been stolen from the capital Arawa recently. Some Bougainvilleans were still unsure if peace would be maintained, the minister said. They feared the early departure of the 330-strong Australian-led Peace Monitoring Group. "They were hearing this message that the Australians were pulling out in February, which was not right" he said. "I'm glad I did (hear the rumour), because you just then re-emphasise the political commitment. When there's a political presence there from time-to-time that really emphasises your Government is behind it ... they know you're the one that carries the message, and you're the one that listens to their message" Mr McKinnon said.

A complex civil war broke out on Bougainville in 1989 between those who wanted independence from PNG, and those who wished to remain loyal. War ruined the Bougainville infrastructure and created seething mistrust between factions. A peace process in which Mr McKinnon has been a key figure resulted in a cease-fire being signed in April. Mr McKinnon's visit was intended to reinforce the message that New Zealand backed the peace process, and was offering help with education, health and employment. On a 16-hour day that began with a radio interview at 3.30 am, he gave a series of speeches in tandem with local politicians Sam Akoitai, Joseph Kabui, Gerard Sinato and John Momis -- who represent the political spectrum of those seeking to maintain peace on the island.

Source: The National - 17 Dec 98

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PNG Defence Force Chief Denies Troop Increase on Bougainville

Papua New Guinea's Defence Force Commander has assured Bougainville rebel leaders that soldier numbers have NOT increased on the island.

General Jerry Singirok has given the assurance following concerns raised by leaders, Sam Kauona and Joseph Kabui. General Singirok has also denied there is a special defence force unit on the island. And he's reaffirmed his earlier stand that he is committed to finding a peaceful solution for Bougainville. But the rebel leaders say the troop movements and an increase in manpower on the island are in line with the government's recent failure to pass amendments to set off the Bougainville Reconciliation Government.
1998 Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Source: Radio Australia - 08:15:04 (AEDT) - 16 Dec 98

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Rebel Office will Stay Open, says Parkop

PORT MORESBY: The West Papua National Office (WPNO), which had been ordered to close down, will remain open irrespective of Indonesian threats or intimidation, according to a statement by Melanesian Solidarity general secretary Powes Parkop.

As co-organiser and the host of WPNO, Mr Parkop condemned the action of the Indonesian government into forcing the National Government to pull down the notice outside the office at the PNG Council of Churches headquarters in Port Moresby. He said the fact that this action should take place on the 50th anniversary of the Adoption of the United Nation Human Rights Charter shows that Indonesia and PNG are still a long way from recognising and meeting their obligations under the charter. Mr Parkop said the Indonesian government should engage in constructive dialogue, instead of using illegal tactics and threats to suppress the issue. He said that as PNG was a democratic country, its citizens "have the right to free association, freedom of speech and expression".

Meanwhile, general secretary of Council of Churches, Reverend Kila Pat, said that last Friday's news report in The National had wrongly portrayed certain actions that have been undertaken by the West Papua National Congress. Rev Pat said that it had never been stated that the European Parliament has officially recognised the roclamation of the independence made on Nov 27 1997, adding that all documents to these effect has only stated that a proclamation of independence was made "at" the office of the president of the European Parliament at that time.

Source: The National - 16 Dec 98

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Bougainville - Our Island Our Fight Wins Gold at Flagstaff, Texas, USA

Australian film maker, Wayne Coles-Janess has won a Gold Award for his documentary "Our Island, Our Fight" at the recent Flagstaff International Film Festival in Houston, Texas.

The festival received over 1,850 category entries from 28 countries around the world. "Our Island, Our Fight" was produced, filmed and edited by Wayne Coles-Janess. It is the only documentary produced about the ten year war, the only filmed interview with Francis Ona, (President of the BRA - Bougainville Revolutionary Army) and the only record of life for refugees in the jungle and dramatic front line footage of Bougainville's fight for independence. The documentary screened on SBS's Cutting Edge last year to high critical acclaim, and has gone on to receive awards at a number of international and local film festivals throughout 1998, the Flagstaff Gold being the most recent achievement. Coles-Janess has just returned from Turkey's Antalya Golden Orange International Film Festival, where "Our Island, Our Fight" was the only documentary to screen in the International Special Screenings with Australian Features, such as Head On, The Well, Doing Time for Patsy Cline and The Road to Nhil. Earlier this year, the documentary screened at the Chicago International Film Festival and received a Golden Plaque Award (video) in the documentary division.a It won Best Documentary at the Bathurst Film Festival. It screened at the St Kilda Film Festival and was the winner of Best Achievement in Video Production.

Coles-Janess first caught the attention of the Australian film industry with his short drama, "On the Border of Hopetown" which he wrote, directed and co-produced, and which received an AFI Award nomination and won a number of international film festival awards, including San Francisco's International Film Festival's Golden Gate Awards. He is currently producing a documentary, "Back to Rainbow" and has another documentary and a feature film in development. For further information, please contact Vanessa Marven on 019 131 037.

Wayne Coles-Janess, Producer - Ipso-facto Productions
Suite 1-40 Smith St, Surry Hills 2010, Australia
Ph: (61) 04 111 59 454 Fax:(61) 02 9770 4263

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Red Cross still Carrying out Operations on Bougainville

RED Cross General Secretary Janet Philemon yesterday denied that its humanitarian operations on Bougainville had been completely suspended.

Mrs Philemon said things were only put on hold last week to allow for management to meet to re-assess its program and create forward planning and implementation. There were also minor security problems which they had to discuss and find ways of how to get around them. She said the stop work and re-assessment was necessary, given the many new dynamics to the Bougainville situation and had nothing to do with Red Cross staff being fired at on the ground. "No, we have never dodged any bullets from Bougainville. We have had some small security problems but no more than other people" she said. Mrs Philemon said the International Federation of Red Cross program co-ordinator on Bougainville, Barbra Watson, was in Port Moresby for the meeting last week, during which time operations on Bougainville was temporarily put on hold. Ms Watson returned at the weekend and their program should resume as normal. Mrs Philemon said they had also discussed the village resettlement program, where family packs containing building tools were being distributed to villagers to build homes. This program is expected to be completed by the end of January next year.

She said the Red Cross had been the only organisation on Bougainville throughout the whole conflict and there would be no reason to close down operations now. She said the Red Cross had always worked with and listened to the local people and that was what they would continue to do. Mrs Philemon said the minor problems were not so much political but criminal in nature, which were not hard to solve. She said like other organisations on Bougainville, they were prone to the risk of being attacked and they have met to take stock, as well as seek out the opportunities and get on with their job. She said of their fleet of vehicles on the ground, only one old utility which had been stolen had not been found yet.

Source: POSTCOURIER - 16 Dec 98

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Singirok Denies Troop Increase on Bougainville

PNG Defence Force Commander Jerry Singirok has assured Bougainville rebel leaders Sam Kauona and Joseph Kabui that soldier numbers have not been increased on the island.

Mr Singirok gave the assurance in Arawa following concerns raised by both men at two separate meetings on Saturday morning. Gen Singirok reaffirmed his earlier stand before Brigadier Roger Powell and senior officers of the Peace Monitoring Group that he was committed to finding a peaceful solution for Bougainville. He admitted his men were moved from one location to another, but the moves were for logistical and administrative purposes and not for military assault. Gen Singirok also denied there was a special defence force unit on the island. He told told both men during his meetings with them that his role was defined to ensure peace. He said he also has a constitutional obligation to protect lives and property. The Defence Force Commander said political issues should be raised with politicians, adding that as far as he was concerned, Bougainville was part of PNG and he will continue to follow directives from the Skate Government. On the issue of moving his men out of Bougainville, Mr Singirok said he will only listen to the National Executive Council.

But Mr Kaunoa said the movement of troops and an increase of manpower on the island by the PNGDF seemed to be in-line with the Government's recent failure to pass amendments to set off the Bougainville Reconciliation Government. Mr Kauona also raised concerns that there were soldiers moving in and out of Arawa, which was against agreements that the soldiers enter Arawa only twice weekly. Gen Singirok assured the leaders that there were no special forces on Bougainville and promised to look into the movement of soldiers into Arawa.

Brigadier Powell said the meeting heralded an historic moment for the men to openly talk to each other about the crisis. Brig Powell said the meeting on Saturday was significant for peace on the troubled island of Bougainville.

Source: POSTCOURIER - 15 Dec 98

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Govt to Recognise Bougainville Congress

THE Government will recognise the Bougainville Peoples Congress.

Prime Minister Bill Skate, before flying off to China on a state visit yesterday, directed the Attorney General's office, in consultation with the Bougainville Transitional Government and the Office of Bougainville Affairs to draw up legal arrangements that would ensure the Bougainville Reconciliation Government is set up under the legal framework of the national Constitution by the end of the year. These legal arrangements are to be contained in a submission Mr Skate has directed be prepared for presentation to the National Executive Council for deliberation and endorsement tomorrow.

Bougainville Transitional Government Premier Gerard Sinato revealed this yesterday after meeting with Mr Skate and Bougainville Affairs Minister Sam Akoitai to brief them on the Bougainville leaders stand after Parliament two weeks ago failed to pass amendments intended to exempt Bougainville from the provincial government reforms. The failure of the amendments meant Bougainville reverting to the reforms from January 1, 1999 after the term of the BTG expires on December 31. Bougainville leaders, outraged by the failure of the amendments met in Arawa last Wednesday and agreed to set up the Bougainville People's Congress by January 1, 1999 in place of BTG and would establish and adopt its constitution next Tuesday.

Coming out of yesterday's meeting, Mr Sinato declared he had got "everything" the Bougainville leaders had wanted. He said the news that the national Government would allow the setting up of the BRG was sure to please and "relieve tensions both at Waigani and in Bougainville". Mr Sinato said he was not prepared to discuss publicly the legal arrangements under which the BRG would be set up until the NEC and the Prime Minister made an announcement. "I would not rather talk about the details of these legal arrangements, but I can tell you they only need the endorsement of NEC. It doesn't need Parliament to sit to make it legal" Mr Sinato said. "This trip has been a great success. We got everything we wanted."

On his meeting with Mr Skate, Mr Sinato said he briefed the PM on the joint communique from the Bougainville leaders meeting in Arawa last week, which he said Mr Skate accepted. "The Prime Minister assured me he wants Bougainvilleans to lead the way in the peace process. He told me he wants to see the Bougainville problem solved. But he has insisted that the BRG must be set up under the legal framework of the National Constitution. We are mindful of that and the BRG will be set up under legal frameworks, but we don't want to wait around, we want to get it done" Mr Sinato said. He said he will brief Bougainville Interim Government vice president Joseph Kabui when he returns to Bougainville. Mr Sinato returned to Bougainville this morning, accompanying New Zealand's Foreign Affairs Minister Don McKinnon on his visit to Bougainville.

Source: POSTCOURIER - 15 Dec 98

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Political Mistake won't Derail Process, says Kabui

BUKA: Peace is here to stay and a political mistake will not be allowed to derail the peace process, Bougainville rebel leader Joseph Kabui said here on Friday.

Addressing more than 300 people at the opening of the Buka hospital, Mr Kabui said the people from all walks of life, from all factions, on Bougainville had made sacrifices to enjoy peace. "Law ino ken bagarapim tingting bilong man" (Law must not spoil a person's thinking)," Mr Kabui said in reference to Parliament's failure to pass the Bougainville Reconciliation Government legislation. "Yes, there is a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel and there are some ways to squeeze us in" he said. Mr Kabui said "the biggest mistake in Parliament" will not stop the peace process."We will show the whole world that we will keep the peace," he said. "We cannot allow a political mistake to derail the peace process. Peace must not be destroyed one more time again." Mr Kabui said that the leaders had the responsibility to ensure that the peace process continued. He thanked the Australian government for its commitment to the peace process. "We don't want bloodshed, we don't want our mothers and children to cry again," he said.

Mr Kabui also hit out at MPs who had called on the Australian government not to meddle in Papua New Guinea's affairs saying "such statements have contributed to the crisis for the last 10 years." He said that with the establishment of the Bougainville People's Congress, the door was still open for negotiation with the Government and "whatever political animal we sort out, it will be from the heart." He said enough lives had been lost and called on the leaders of different factions to focus on building the peace.

His sentiments were echoed by Bougainville deputy premier Thomas Anis who said, "Peace is here to stay with or without the provincial government reforms, with or without Papua New Guinea." He the people no longer wished to be involved in a barbaric warfare that had stolen so much of their wealth.

Source: The National - 14 Dec 98

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Crucial phase: Powell

BUKA: The peace process on Bougainville has entered a challenging phase following the failure by Parliament to approve amendments to set up the Bougainville Reconciliation Government, Peace Monitoring Group commander Brigadier Roger Powell said.

In his report to the Peace Process Consultative Committee (PPCC), Brig Powell said the development was met with widespread disappointment on Bougainville. "Nevertheless, I am pleased to report that the leaders of all main groups have reaffirmed their commitment to the process of peaceful negotiations," he said. "This commitment reflects, in my observation, the overwhelming support of the people of Bougainville for peace, for reconciliation and for rehabilitation."

Brig Powell, who heads the 298-strong PMG, said the group has maintained a regular pattern of activity of monitoring the ceasefire, undertaking awareness patrols including to remote areas, and attending, facilitating and observing district level reconciliation, peace and law and order meetings. The PMG has also been active in promoting flow of information among the parties to the ceasefire agreement. Brig Powell said an informal meeting was held in Arawa on Nov 26 attended by senior rebel leaders as well as Bougainville Transitional Government and PNGDF personnel to clear the air over rumours that had begun to circulate suggesting the existence of a conspiracy against senior rebel personnel. "These rumours appear to have been given some impetus by movement of some PNGDF sections in southern Bougainville, a consequence of the recent force rotation," he said. He said although the meeting was a useful confidence building measure the rumours continue to circulate. "While I acknowledge that the rebuilding of trust and confidence is a lengthy process, it is disappointing that, well over a year after the truce was signed, such rumours can continue to have potency," Brig Powell said. He said tensions continued to run high in the Buin area, following the killing of Paul Bobby in October. A number of attempts at reconciliation have not so far succeeded. "This issue remains unresolved and I fear has a potential to escalate," Brig Powell said. "The attempted ambush of Thomas Tarri, in which there were a number of casualties, reinforces this fact."

Source: The National - 14 Dec 98

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Australia Welcomes Bougainville Reconcilliation Government

Australia has welcomed the announcement by Bougainville leaders that they'll establsh their own form of reconciliation government.

The leaders have agreed to set up the Bougainville Peoples' Congress on December 31st. The move comes after the national parliament failed to pass crucial laws to set up the government. Australia's Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, will travel to Bougainville today at the start of five-nation tour of the South Pacific. Mr Downer says the move shows that the failure to pass the constititutional amendment is not a fatal setback:

The Bougainvilleans announced that they would establish a Peoples Congress by the end of this year and they would maintain their commitment to the establishment of a Bougainville Reconciliation Government. This is a very good message. This is a very good development and it confirms my view that the Bougainville peace process does remain on track.
1998 Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Source: Radio Australia - 07:15:02 1998 (AEDT)- 11 Dec 98

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Women `Weapons of War' on Bougainville

VIOLENCE against women was common during the crisis on Bougainville and was often used by both conflicting parties as "a weapon of war", a member of a women's forum said yesterday.

Speaking at a human rights seminar in Port Moresby, Genevieve Pisi, a member of the Inter-Church Women's Forum in Bougainville, a non-denominational group that is involved in the peace process in Bougainville, said women were killed and raped during the conflict. "Rape was often deliberately used as a `weapon of war', not only for self gratification by an invading army but also to demoralise the opponent" Ms Pisi said. "Such treatment to women humiliates and degrades us, the effects reach through to our men and communities. In our society it is the women that maintains our community, are the custodians of our land and by attacking them, the opponent aims to destroy the very roots of our communities."

The Inter-Church Women's Forum (ICWF) is just one of the many women's groups in Bougainville that is currently carrying out programs to assist people resettle in villages and live normal lives. The organisation initiated 12 schools that are being run in vernacular languages in Bougainville. These schools are taught by teachers trained by ICWF. Not long after ICWF was formed in 1996, the organisation invited 700 women from Bougainville for the first time to conduct a forum in Arawa. It was a peace forum that had a theme of "In Search for Genuine Peace and Reconciliation".

Two tragic stories told by Ms Pisi yesterday to the human rights seminar were taken from female participants at the forum. Ms Pisi said one of the women witnessed her 16-year-old son being shot dead by Papua New Guinea Defence Force soldiers because he was suspected of being a BRA or a rebel agent. She said such experiences created mistrust, doubts and restlessness among the people. They were also restricted from tending their gardens, stopped from returning to their villages after visiting care centres, and told not to take food and other supplies they received from government care-centres to BRA-controlled areas.

The list was long, Ms Pisi said, but the woman concluded that living in a PNGDF control care centre was nerve wrecking. Ms Pisi said many women had also been involved in negotiating with the BRA about laying down arms. But Ms Pisi said many others had lost their lives in their fight to bring peace to Bougainville.

Source: Postcourier - 11 Dec 98

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Bougainville Leaders Won't Wait for Skate - 11 Dec 98

LEADERS from all factions on Bougainville plan to form a new united government to run the island before the end of the year, in defiance of the Papua New Guinea Government.

The move follows last week's adjournment of the PNG national parliament for six months by the Skate Government, despite its failure to pass legislation crucial to the peace process on Bougainville. Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer yesterday gave de facto endorsement to the formation of the new government, describing it as a "good sign".

In an interview with Radio Australia, Mr Downer said it was disappointing the PNG parliament had been adjourned for so long, making it difficult to pass the legislation, which would have paved the way for elections on the island. "The signs so far are actually quite good," he said. "The local people are going to try to piece together an interim agreement. But the precise nature of it is yet to be worked out."

Bougainville rebel leader Joseph Kabui said a meeting of leaders had decided to go ahead with the formation of a Bougainville reconciliation government without the legislation, which would have provided for elections promised under the Lincoln peace agreement signed earlier this year. "We had to form the BRG so the peace process can continue without any setback," Mr Kabui was reported as saying.

The meeting on Bougainville was chaired by the UN representative in Bougainville, Valery Marusin, and witnessed by the multinational peace force on Bougainville, which is led by Australia. The UN Security Council also pledged this week to maintain a presence on the island to keep the peace process alive, in light of the PNG parliament's failure.

The communique announcing the formation of a reconciliation government, to be known as the Bougainville People's Congress, made clear that all parties on the island were still willing to work with PNG. However, it did spell out that Bougainville leaders rejected the imposition of provincial government reforms, which were supposed to automatically come into effect on the island on January 1, 1999. These would provide for a member of the national parliament, John Momis, to become governor of Bougainville.

PNG Prime Minister Bill Skate has indicated he will visit Bougainville before the end of the year, possibly over Christmas. "He is welcome at any time, as we have made our position clear in the communique," Mr Kabui said. The communique, which was also signed by the Premier of Bougainville, Gerard Sinato, the commander of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army, "General" Sam Kauona, and the deputy leader of the island's resistance movement, Patrik Laurie, also pledged to uphold the terms of the current ceasefire agreement.

Source: By MARY-LOUISE O'CALLAGHAN and ROBERT GARRAN - The Australian Newspaper - 11 Dec 98

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Bougainville Leaders Form Own Govt

RABAUL: Leaders of the three main parties to the peace process yesterday agreed to set up a Bougainville reconciliation government.

The agreement was announced in a joint communique signed by the leaders of the Bougainville Transitional Government, the rebels and the resistance force. The reconciliation government was set up despite the National Government's warning against it following Parliament's failure to pass constitutional amendments aimed at stablishing the BRG in line with the peace agreements. Rebel leader Joseph Kabui said last night that the new government will be known as the Bougainville People's Congress.

Mr Kabui said the BRG will come into effect on Dec 31, adding that a meeting among the main Bougainville-based parties to the peace process yesterday had finalised its formation. He said that he, BTG Premier Gerard Sinato, rebel commander Sam Kauona, and deputy Resistance Force commander, Patrick Laurie, signed the joint communique declaring the formation of the BRG. The signatories of the communique requested Bougainville Affairs Minister Sam Akoitai to accept their action and urge the National Government to accept their position, he said. In other words, Mr Kabui said the parties did not discuss what Mr Akoitai had to present at yesterday's meeting because the communique was signed before his arrival in Arawa.

Mr Kabui said: "By Dec 31, a Bougainville People's Congress will come into effect. We will adopt the constitution of the BRG on Dec 22." He said rebel technical officers had been tasked with formulating the new constitution and the structure of the government. Mr Kabui said representation and method for the election of the chief executive and other members of the congress will be made public after the adoption of the constitution. He added that the formation of the BRG was not intended to frustrate other parties involved in the peace process including the Government but to fulfill the requirements of the Burnham and Buin Declarations, and the Lincoln Agreement. "We had to form the BRG so the peace process can continue without any setback," Mr Kabui said. "Our action was done to save all parties involved in the peace process from embarrassment and breaches of the agreements."

Mr Kabui said that the signatories of the communique did not shut the door for further consultation and negotiation, adding that their action was part of the transition towards restoring lasting peace through peaceful means with the Government and other parties. "We did not shut the door for further consultation and negotiation. We did what we thought was necessary for all of us to move forward," he said. Referring to Prime Minister Bill Skate's proposed visit to Bougainville, Mr Kabui said he was welcome to come at any time to meet with the Bougainville leaders. "He is welcome at any time as we have made our position clear in the communique," he said.

Mr Kabui said the joint communique was signed to:

Source: By PHILIP KEPSON - The National - 10 Dec 98

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BTG/BIG Leaders Consultative Talks Arawa, Central Bougainville


The leaders of the Bougainville Transitional Government (BTG) and the Bougainville Interim Government (BIG), ACKNOWLEDGING recent developments, detrimental to the peace process, which have happened on the floor of Parliament in Port Moresby and CONCERN for the future Of the peace process, held consultative talks in Arawa RE-COMMIT themselves to:-

  1. a) PURSUE LASTING PEACE by peaceful means, consistent with the terms of their undertakings contained in the Burnham and Buin Declarations, and the Lincoln agreement.
    b) UPHOLD and PROTECT the terms of the cease fire agreement currently in force on Bougainville, especially the conditions for the engagement of third parties involvement in the resolution of the conflict.
    c) CONTINUE TO MAINTAIN openness, transparency and consultation with the government of Papua New Guinea in resolving issues raised in those agreements and declarations.
  2. The leaders therefore jointly declare
    a) the establishment under constitution of the Bougainville Reconciliation Government (BRG), a Bougainville People's Congress by 31 December 1998.
    b) the adoption of the constitution of the BRG by 22 December 1998.
    c) their rejection of the imposition of the reforms on Bougainville, intended to come into effect on 1 January, 1999.
  3. The leaders call on the Government of Papua New Guinea to agree to a leaders meeting to discuss details for the establishment of the congress, and the political future of Bougainville.

Signed: Mr Joseph Kabui, Vice-President BIG,
Mr Gerard Sinato, Hon Premier BTG,
Mr James Tanis, Minister for Reconciliations BIG,
Mr Thomas Anis, Deputy Premier BTG,
Gen. Sam Kauona, Commander BRA,
Patrick Laurie, Dep. Chairman, Resistance Forces.

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Bougainville Leaders Arrive for Talks on Future of Peace Process

Bouganville leaders have arrived in Arawa for two days of talks on the future of the Bouganville peace process.

The meeting was prompted by the failure of Papua New Guinea's parliament last week to pass essential legislation to keep the peace process going. The decision means Bougainville will now automatically come under the country's provincial reforms, and the regional member for Bougainville, John Momis, will become Bougainville Governor. The move has been opposed by ALL Bouganvillean leaders. A spokesman says the Arawa meeting will push for a continuation of the current peace process and the establishment of the Bouganville Government of Reconcilliation.
1998 Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Source: Radio Australia - 06:15:01 1998 (AEDT)- 9 December 98

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Bougainville Leaders to Attend Crisis Meeting

THE Bougainville leaders meeting is set to start in Arawa this afternoon.

The meeting will primarily discuss a position to be taken by the leadership of the province after Parliament last week failed to pass crucial amendments to the Organic Law on Provincial Government exempting Bougainville from provincial government reforms. It will also discuss setting up a special government for the province, to be known as the Bougainville Reconciliation Government. Bougainville Interim Government vice president Joseph Kabui confirmed last night that the meeting will be underway today as soon as all delegates arrive.

BIG/BRA delegates started arriving in Arawa yesterday and were waiting on leaders from Buka, led by Bougainville Transitional Government Premier Gerard Sinato, to arrive for the meeting, which will run through to tomorrow, Mr Kabui said by telephone from Arawa last night. Mr Kabui said the meeting would only involve leaders and his side would see 30 to 40 delegates attending. A similar number was expected from the BTG, Mr Kabui said. All up, he expected about 100 leaders at the meeting, which is designed to "seek directions from the leaders on what we should do". "It's not a rank and file meeting, but if this meeting decides we should have a meeting for everyone, then that's what we will do" Mr Kabui said. "We will seek directions from the people and the leadership here to map our journey in this situation, which is the failure of the amendments in Parliament. We are still determined to set up the BRG and to ensure that it is done so in accordance with the Buin declaration and Lincoln Agreement. The mood of the people here has not changed. They all want to carry on with the peace process and they want us to set up the BRG. Parliament totally went against that mood last week but that is the insensitive will of Parliament."

Mr Kabui said today's meeting had "every possibility of setting up the BRG, if not, certainly by the end of this month". "We will get more definite indications from this meeting." Mr Kabui also scotched fears that the push by the leadership of Bougainville to set up the BRG would mean the end of negotiations. "There seems to be some apprehension within diplomatic circles, and probably Waigani, that with our push to set up the BRG we will shut the door on negotiations that is utter nonsense. We are a responsible people. We'll go ahead with the wishes of our people. We will still be open to negotiations."

Mr Kabui said Prime Minister Bill Skate's reply last week, that the National Government would not allow an illegal government such as the BRG to be set up, was expected. "That's what he says but we will set up the BRG, whether its legal or unconstitutional, we will leave that to the negotiating table to sort out, this is politics" he said. Mr Kabui said he would be willing to meet with Mr Skate in Buka on Friday, when the Prime Minister has promised he will travel to Bougainville. But he added threats on his life in the past month could prevent that. Mr Kabui revealed he has received renewed threats since he started moving freely around the province in the past six months. "I have raised my concerns of those threats with the United Nations (officials on Bougainville), the Peace Monitoring Group and the PNG Defence Commander at Loloho. These threats are causing some concerns and there is pressure from my side for me not to travel north any more. Even here in Arawa, it is unsafe for me according to reports we are receiving. This could be the coconut wireless but it has proven correct in two other cases of former premier Theodore Miriung and Thomas Batakai (another leader assassinated)" Mr Kabui said. He said his side was aware of the source of the threat and urged those trying to carry it out to stop as it would only undermine the whole peace process.

Source: POSTCOURIER - 8 December 98

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PNG Leaders have Let Down Bougainville People

I WRITE as a Bougainvillean to express my disgust at the failure of the National Parliament to pass the bills to set up the Bougainville Reconciliation Government under the PNG constitution.

This was mainly due to the failure of the Opposition to provide the numbers required to pass the bills. Many of the members in the Opposition were also the people who were in government and whose mismanagement of the nation caused the Bougainville crisis. They probably would like the crisis on Bougainville to continue, since it was their creation. One of them used to visit Bougainville in military uniform when he was a Government Minister. The same PNG Parliament continued to renew the repressive military operations on Bougainville for the past 10 years without any concern for the lives of the so-called Bougainvillean "citizens" of Papua New Guinea. Our PNG parliamentarians had no difficulty in passing the bills that empowered the military to kill the so-called Bougainvillean 'citizens'.

It is no surprise that Parliament has failed to pass the bills to create the Bougainville Reconciliation Government. This was expected. We know that they were only half-hearted in their support. They were never genuinely interested in peace and reconciliation on Bougainville. The failure to pass the bills simply confirms that PNG leaders neither understand nor care about Bougainville except for the money. That is the reason why so much effort was required just to persuade them to cooperate and participate in the peace process. This kind of leadership is pathetic.

The Parliament's failure to pass the Bougainville bills effectively means that the PNG leaders do not care what kind of government is established on Bougainville or whether it is established under the PNG constitution or not. They should therefore not care whether the BRG is established under any other PNG law, for that matter. Bougainville leaders must now go ahead and unilaterally establish BRG outside the PNG constitution. Bougainvilleans should not see the PNG Parliament's failure to pass the bills as a setback for peace and reconciliation on Bougainville. We do not need these bills toachieve peace and reconciliation on Bougainville. And we do not need these bills to establish BRG. Peace and reconciliation belong to the people of Bougainville, therefore we shall not allow the anti-democratic attitude of the PNG leaders to undermine our peace process.

We must and we will push ahead to establish the BRG as scheduled and as agreed under the Lincoln agreement. Once established, it should under no circumstances be allowed to operate under the reformed provincial and local level government act. Bougainville leaders and the national MPs should meet as soon as possible to ensure that the necessary things are done in order for the BRG to be put in place as scheduled.
Bernard Simiha, Economics Department, UPNG, NCD

Source: The National - 7 Dec 98 - Letter to Editor

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Six Rebel Military Commanders Disappointed at Opposition Failure

PORT MORESBY: Six Bougainville rebel military commanders yesterday expressed their disappointment over the Opposition's failure to support amendments to set up the reconciliation government.

And they thanked Prime Minister Bill Skate and the Government for voting for the amendments. The commanders, from north Bougainville, are Willie Anga, Ben Kamda, Eddie Mohin, Barnabas Tobi, Tanahan Getsi and one who identified himself only as Dominic. They said in a statement that they were "disappointed at the manner in which Parliament has demonstrated its ignorance and total insensitivity" when MPs failed to turn up and cast their votes for the amendments.

The commanders said the amendments were necessary "to pave the way to sustaining the peace process". "Continuous political insensitivity and mishandling of the Bougainville problem by national leaders with vested interests (has) brought about so much suffering and the worst bloodbath experienced by the people of Bougainville" they said in a statement. "The leaders have once more demonstrated that they have not learned anything from the bad experience of internal warfare which continues to put at stake the lives of Papua New Guineans, including Bougainvilleans." They called for an immediate establishment of reconciliation government outside the new Organic Law on Provincial and Local Level Governments. "The BRG shall be the vehicle to work out a new deal for a new Bougainville within a new spirit" the commanders said.

They also warned of a possible withdrawal by the rebels from the peace process "if Parliament members do not stand up for the spirit of bipartisanship for a peaceful resolution of the nine year old conflict". The six commanders also appealed to all Bougainvilleans to stay calm and to uphold the spirit of the Burnham Declaration, the Ceasefire Agreement and the Lincoln Accord "in order to promote peace, unity and reconciliation".

Source: By NEVILLE TOGAREWA - The National - 4 December 98

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Aussie Troops to Stay on Bougainville: Downer

CANBERRA: Australian troops will remain on Bougainville until well into next year following Parliament's failure to pass legislation to set up a reconciliation government there.

The 240-strong Australian-led peacekeeping force costing up to A$4 million (K5.3 million) a month was due to wind up in March, after already being extended from December. However, a failure by the Opposition to support the bills denied the PNG Government the two-thirds majority it needed to approve the legislation.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Australia was disappointed by the walkout, but would not abandon the peacekeeping force. "We don't want to be there in a peace monitoring group and financing a peace monitoring group indefinitely, and the Papua New Guinean Government and also the Bougainvillean leadership know that" he told reporters. "We're not going to do it indefinitely, but we're not laying down any particular timeframe at the moment." His New Zealand counterpart Don McKinnon, who met Mr Downer in Canberra yesterday for regular biannual talks, said the failure to establish the reconciliation government did not signal a return to civil war on the island. "This is a probably a classic case of expect the unexpected in Papua New Guinea, we get a bit used to that" Mr McKinnon told reporters. "It's not the end of the day, it's not the end of the ceasefire agreement. I am still satisfied they all actually want to see peace maintained on the island."

Mr Downer said he would lobby both sides in PNG to reconvene Parliament earlier, but he said the peace process appeared to have been caught up in infighting between the Government and the Opposition. "It is the opposition on this occasion, which for reasons I expect are totally unrelated to Bougainville, decided not to attend a vote on the Bougainville Reconciliation Government" Mr Downer said. "That's frankly unfortunate."

Source: The National - 4 December 98

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Kabui Warns of Bloodshed 'We'll set up reconciliation government'

PORT MORESBY: Blood could be spilled if Bougainvilleans were stopped from setting up a reconciliation government, rebel leader Joseph Kabui said yesterday.

"Any other way, it is bound to lead into chaos" Mr Kabui said. "There is a likelihood of even blood spilling again on Bougainville if we do it any other way." Mr Kabui said Bougainvilleans would establish their own reconciliation government, after legislation setting up an interim Bougainville Reconciliation Government failed to pass through Parliament on Wednesday because of lack of support from the Opposition.

But Prime Minister Bill Skate said yesterday it was impossible under PNG's constitution to set up any reconciliation government without the enabling legislation. "You can't" Mr Skate told reporters. "We have a constitution and we should respect the constitution."

Mr Kabui said there was "no turning back" for Bougainvilleans on the issue of a reconciliation government, even if they had to set it up themselves. "Whether it is constitutional or legal, we don't give a damn" Mr Kabui said. The interim BRG would have been put in place on Jan 1, had the Opposition supported the enabling legislation in parliament. Mr Kabui said the failure to pass the legislation indicated a solution to the Bougainville crisis lay outside the constitution of PNG and reinforced the belief that PNG did not care about Bougainville. He said the failure to have the legislation passed was a result of "petty politicking" by the Opposition.

Mr Skate said yesterday he would travel to Bougainville next week to meet with leaders from the Bougainville Transitional Government and the rebels. "I will be going down to see my brother, Joseph Kabui. He's my brother, he's a Papua New Guinean whether he likes it or not. I'm still his prime minister" Mr Skate said. "If he's angry he should blame the Opposition for failing to support me." Mr Skate said the position taken by the Opposition was very irresponsible, especially after they had pledged to help the Government pursue peace on Bougainville through a bipartisan approach and struck a deal for Mr Skate not to adjourn Parliament for more than seven months. Mr Skate was speaking to reporters at Government House after the latest defector from the Opposition, Imbonggu MP Peter Peipul, and Dei MP Puri Ruing, were sworn in as Public Service Minister and Vice Minister for Rural Development and NBC respectively. "The Opposition has miserably failed to support me and my Government. They agreed with me (in exchange for their support) not to adjourn Parliament for more than seven months. I have the numbers and I could have easily adjourned Parliament until (election time in) 2002" Mr Skate said.

Bougainville Affairs Minister Sam Akoitai is expected to hold talks with Bougainville leaders today.

Asked what sort of government Bougainville would now have after the term of the current Bougainville Transitional Government expires on Dec 31, Mr Skate said he had "no idea". However, under existing laws, Bougainville would get a government similar to those that other provinces have, and the regional MP for Bougainville, John Momis, could become the governor. Mr Kabui said Bougainvilleans opposed such a government because they believed it would centralise power over Bougainville with politicians in Port Moresby. Mr Skate said he did not think the Bougainville peace process would be threatened by the latest developments. "I don't think the peace process will disintegrate" he said. "I think we are Melanesians, we have our own style."

The Prime Minister refused to say if a solution to the failure of the passage of the legislation could have been found if Parliament had not been adjourned until July 13. "I will not answer that question because it's got nothing to do with you" Mr Skate said. Opposition leader Bernard Narokobi has said the government adjourned parliament until July 13 to postpone a no-confidence motion expected against Mr Skate in early February. Mr Skate denied it, saying the adjournment was aimed at giving government MPs time to explain the government's 1999 Budget to their electorates. - AAP

Source: The National - 4 December 98

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Australian and New Zealand call on PNG to Vote on Bougainville

Bougainville leaders will meet in Buka today to discuss the future of the island's peace process after the Papua New Guinea Government failed to pass crucial legislation.

Leaders from the Bougainville Interim Government, Bougainville Transitional Government and the Bougainville Revolutionary Army will attend the meeting. The P-N-G parliament failed this week to get a two-third majority to pass legislation on the creation of a Reconciliation Government for Bougainville. Both Australia and New Zealand have called on P-N-G to hold another Parliamentary vote on the matter.

Australia's Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer and New Zealand's Foreign Minister, Don McKinnon, say the creation of the new Government for Bougainville can't wait until the Parliament reconvenes next July. They say the failure to pass the law will slow-down the peace process, although the ceasefire is still in place.

Source: Radio Australia - 09:31:14 1998 (AEDT) - 4 December 98

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PNG Parliament Urged to Vote Again on Bougainville Government

Australia and New Zealand have called on Papua New Guinea to hold another Parliamentary vote on the creation of a Reconciliation Government for Bougainville.

Graeme Dobell reports the call was made after talks in Canberra between the Foreign Ministers of Australia and New Zealand. Both Foreign Ministers expressed disappointment at the failure of the Papua New Guinea Parliament to pass legislation to create a Reconciliation Government for Bougainville. Australia's Alexander Downer says the law should not wait until the P-N-G Parliament reconvenes in July. Downer: "It is disappointing but it isn't a fatal setback". Mr Downer joined with New Zealand's Don McKinnon in calling for the P-N-G Parliament to hold a special sitting to vote on a new government for Bougainville.

Source: Radio Australia - 09:31:14 1998 (AEDT) - 4 December 98

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Bougainville Peace Process under Cloud after Crucial Laws not Passed

Meanwhile, the Premier of Bougainville, Gerard Sinato, has warned of problems on the island following the parliament's failure to pass the laws.

Mr Sinato says leaders of the Bougainville Interim Government, Bougainville Transitional Government and the Bougainville Revolutionary Army will meet *tomorrow in Buka to discuss the future of the peace process. The vote means the regional member for Bougainville, John Momis, will become the Governor replacing Mr Sinato, although Bougainvilleans reportedly don't want Mr Momis as governor.

Source: Radio Australia - 09:31:14 1998 (AEDT) - 4 December 98

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Kabiu: No Way of Stopping Us

THE Bougainville Interim Government will push the setting up of the Bougainville Reconciliation Government, "with or without the approval" of Waigani.

"Illegal or unconstitutional they may say this may be, we don't give a damn, we will set up the BRG" declared Bougainville Interim Government vice president Joseph Kabui yesterday. Speaking by telephone from Bougainville, Mr Kabui said he and his side had expected the constitutional amendments intended to legalise the setting up of the BRG after Tuesday's initial vote failed. While he admitted yesterday's vote was "disappointing" that would not stop the BIG/BRA pushing the establishment of the BRG. He proposes that the government should draw its membership from the current BIG/BRA, the Bougainville Transitional Government and the elders council leadership.

Mr Kabui said the failed attempt to pass the amendments reinforced his view that the solution to the Bougainville crisis was outside the Constitution of PNG. "It also reinforces our belief that PNG does not care about Bougainville." Mr Kabui said there was a danger of fresh trouble erupting but added the leadership in Bougainville would not allow that to happen. "The responsibility is upon us leaders now to talk to our people and continue the peace process. I believe we are so well down the road, there will not be any major trouble, but the danger is there" he said.

The failed vote was evident of the "no care attitude that PNG has towards Bougainville". "They have just shown us once again that they are not worried about lives of people." Mr Kabui said he had consulted with Premier Gerard Sinato on the failed vote and he was of "the same opinion as I that we must set up the BRG". Mr Kabui said his leadership and the people were committed to the peace process on the ground. "No matter what has happened, no matter what external forces have come into play here they will not derail the steps we have taken to deliver on the Buin declaration of an independent homeland for Bougainville. We will protect that at all costs."

Mr Kabui warned against the imposition of the provincial government reforms, adding that could trigger trouble. Mr Kabui said meetings organised between his side, the National Government and the BTG next week in Buka would be cancelled but Bougainville Affairs Minister Sam Akoitai last night said he would talk to Mr Kabui to allow the talks to go ahead. Mr Akoitai said: "Having come so far, we will not allow the peace process to be derailed. We remain firmly committed to full implementation of the Lincoln agreement."

Source: Postcourier - 3 December 98

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PNG's Sincerity Called into Question

BERNARD Narokobi and Sir Michael Somare were exemplary in 1991 on board Her Majesty's New Zealand Ship, Endeavor.

Genuine, sincere and speaking from the heart, their personal involvement and commitment sealed the Endeavor Accord. That the terms of that accord never got to see light of day is an entirely different matter and has nothing whatsoever to do with the two honorable members, both from East Sepik, both senior citizens, both founding architects of independent Papua New Guinea. They are known and respected by the Bougainville rebels. Indeed, on a number of occasions the rebels demanded to have Sir Michael on the Government's negotiating team. More than most people, including the current Prime Minister Bill Skate, Mr Narokobi and Sir Michael understand the Bougainville dilemma from its inception in the early 70s until today. They were there and they were involved right from the start. It was therefore sad and tragic to see their failure to support the Bougainville legislation this week.

Their actions on Tuesday contrasted markedly with their behaviour aboard the Endeavor and throughout the bloody history of Bougainville. On Tuesday, Parliament could not muster the required numbers to pass the very important legislation relating to the North Solomons province. Sir Michael was absent. Opposition Leader Bernard Narokobi could not lend the Government the crucial numbers to make the three quarters majority required under the Constitution to pass the laws. The Prime Minister moved a motion to rescind the vote and put the bill to vote again yesterday. The Opposition chose instead to walk out of Parliament. It is behaviour that should never be tolerated. It is the height of irresponsibility and despicable. The Bougainville problems transcend politics. It goes to the very heart of self-governance, independence and democracy in this country. Parliament in the past has always acted on a bipartisan basis where Bougainville was concerned choosing to rise above the politics of the day each time and regardless of who was in power.

This week's failure to pass the necessary legislation to set the parameters for a reconciliation government as required under the Lincoln Agreement and to leave North Solomons province outside the ambit of the Organic Law on Provincial and Local Level Government has serious repercussions for the country, and particularly for the peace process. This action will be interpreted as a lack of desire on the part of the PNG Parliament to continue with the peace process, certainly not under the current format at least. It also gives much needed ammunition to the detractors of the current peace process and gives credence to accusations that the Government was never serious. Parliament's action also gives people pushing for secession much needed support.

The date of the reconciliation government was adjourned from this month to June. In adjourning Parliament to July next year, it has again shown contempt for the peace process.

We hear and sympathise with the sentiments of Bougainville Affairs Minister Sam Akoitai but we disagree that there is much latitude to continue without enabling legislation passed by Parliament. In any case, the perception in the minds of those watching the peace process closely, including neighbouring states which have spent much time, effort and money to advance the process to this state, will be bitter disappointment and may be the beginning of doubt in the sincerity of PNG.

Source: The National - Editorial, 3 December 98

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PM Pulls out of Big Mining, Oil Event

PRIME Minister Bill Skate has backed out of opening the fourth annual mining and petroleum investment conference in Sydney, Australia, despite earlier confirming his attendance.

Conference organisers were last night trying to decide on who should read Mr Skate's prepared speech. There are several ministers and MPs attending the conference. Commerce and Industry Minister Ian Ling-Stuckey, who filled in at the same event last year when Mr Skate pulled out to handle the Mujo Sefa scandal, may do the honors again. Or it could be Petroleum and Gas Minister Sir Rabbie Namaliu or Mining Minister Masket Iangalio.

Mr Skate's keynote address this morning will be on the importance of the resource industry to Papua New Guinea in a session that will be chaired by chamber president Dr Moseley Moramoro. His address will be followed by overviews of the mining and petroleum sectors by Placer Niugini managing director Russell Barwick and Oil Search managing director Peter Botten respectively. The latter part of the morning will feature talks on the fiscal regimes for the resources sector in PNG with presentations from the industry and financiers perspectives. Mr Iangalio will start this afternoon's session outlining the Government's policy initiatives for the mining sector. This will be followed by updates on the Ramu, Frieda River, Mt Kare, Tolokuma and Morobe gold projects by their managers. This session will be chaired by Mineral Resources Secretary Kuma Aua.

Gas will dominate the morning session tomorrow, starting with Mr Namaliu's paper on the importance of the gas project to PNG. Queensland Mines and Energy Minister Tony McGrady will then speak about relations between Queensland and PNG relating to the gas project. This is the first time a minister from outside of PNG will speak at this conference. There will also be presentations from Greg Martin of Australian Gas Light and the gas project's Dr John Powell.

The final session tomorrow will be on the environment and project benefits and compensation in resource projects. Environment Minister Herowa Haegiwa will speak on the new environment legislation, followed by Petroleum Secretary Joe Gabut and the chamber's community affairs consultant David Henton. Mr Botten will close the conference.

Source:POSTCOURIER (PNG) - 30 Nov 98

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British NGO Gives Help Without Pay

A BRITISH-based non-government organisation that provides expertise assistance free of charge to developing countries like Papua New Guinea has big praise for Papua New Guinea.

South Pacific regional director of the British Executive Service Overseas (BESO), John Burlison said this on Friday after visiting a small business development corporation workshop on Bougainville. "Most people in Britain hear bad things about Papua New Guinea but when they come here, they leave with very good comments. They've said that Papua New Guineans are keen learners and pick up very quickly" he said. He said on Friday that the assistance to be extended to Bougainville will make it 35 projects which BESO has undertaken in Papua New Guinea since it began operations in PNG seven years ago.

Mr Burlison worked with the British government services until retirement. Four years ago he joined BESO which is a non-government organisation that brings all retired people within the country who wish to give their services free to a developing country. He said these people were very experienced in their own fields, and were of great benefit to whoever asked for their services. They work without salary. The organisation's members spend between four to five months in a country with the organisation paying for its members' travels to the recipient country, and expects the beneficiaries to take care of the member's food and accommodation costs for the duration of his or her stay.

BESO came into existence 26 years ago and to date has 3350 volunteers whose members are skilled in a range of subjects. According to Mr Burlison, the members can extend their assistance in any subject except defence, politics and religion. He said the organisation covers 600 jobs every year and at this stage are helping in 100 countries. In the South Pacific region, BESO has helped in countries such as Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Kiribati and Tuvalu. Some of the areas that BESO has given help in PNG are, small business advice, media, journalism, marketing, and social welfare services, health management, sustainable forestry development, tourism development and physiotherapy assistance at the Cheshire Home in Hohola.

Those who want more details can get in touch with the British High Commission in Port Moresby on telephone 3251677 or 3251643.

Source:POSTCOURIER (PNG) - 30 Nov 98

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Bougainville Govt in Doubt if Numbers Fail

THE STATUS of Bougainville's future government has been placed in a precarious position, with the National Government unlikely to muster enough support to pass important laws next Tuesday.

Suggestions have been made in political circles that the Opposition may not provide its numbers in order for Parliament to muster the required 82 votes to pass three pieces of legislation that would govern a future compromise government for Bougainville. The fears are a result of the Government rushing the already controversial 1999 Budget without amendments and much debate. Political sources said the Opposition would vote against the Bougainville legislations as a mark of protest. The laws an amendment to the Constitution and the Organic Law on Provincial and Local Level Governments would enable the establishment of the all-representative Bougainville Reconciliation Government (BRG). It has to be in place by December 31, when the term of the current Bougainville Transitional Government expires.

If Parliament fails to pass the laws, then Bougainville's government will be similar to other provinces, which would be considered unacceptable and highly destabilising to factions on the island, who have been negotiating for a government that caters to all of their interests. While acknowledging that Bougainville is a bi-partisan issue which all parties must treat with care and sensitivity, Opposition Leader Bernard NaroKobi said he could not ensure that all MPs would be present for the crucial vote or support it. He said Opposition MPs had been urged to make a ``conscience vote'' on the matter. But he added that the Opposition would prefer that the Government made clear next Tuesday when it intended adjourning Parliament before it took the vote on Bougainville. "Bougainville is a bi-partisan thing, a matter of solemn and deep sensitivity and we don't want to link it to the Budget" he said yesterday. "However, we want the Government to show goodwill by moving the adjournment motion first, whether it will adjourn to the January/February period or to November/December of 1999." "Our position on the Constitution issue is that it's a matter of grave concern, and every MP must exercise his or her mandate with conscience. One hopes that everyone will turn up and vote with their conscience, otherwise there will be trouble, even if the Opposition votes with the Government" Mr Narokobi said of the need to get the required 82 votes.

Source:POSTCOURIER - 27 November 98

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Solomon's to Take Action Against Breaches of Environmental Regulations

The Solomon Islands Government says it will take strong action if it's found there have been breaches of environmental regulations at the country's newly opened gold mine.

Concerns have been raised by people living near the Australian-operated Gold Ridge mine, who have found large numbers of dead fish in a river near the mine and say they've become ill after using river water. Independent tests have found cyanide, a by-product of gold processing in the water, but at levels regarded as safe by the World Health Organisation. The Solomon Islands Government has told Ross Mining, which operates Gold Ridge, it must identify and fix any problems that exist at the mine, and give guarantees they will not recur. Prime Minister, Bartholomew Ulufa'alu, says the Government will NOT tolerate unsafe mining practices.

Source:Radio Australia - Fri Nov 27 1998 - 09:15:02 (AEDT)

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France Accused of Failing to Honour Noumea Accord

New Caledonia's main pro-independence party has accused France of failing to honour promises over an accord giving more autonomy to the Pacific territory.

The Kanak National Socialist Liberation Front says France is trying to water down the Noumea accord, which was overwhelmingly approved by New Caledonians in a recent referendum. The FLNKS is unhappy about the way a range of issues in the accord have been addressed in the French drafted new law, including employment rights and citizenship.

Source:Radio Australia - Fri Nov 27 1998 - 08:15:00 (AEDT)

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B'ville Peace Monitors to Stay: Akoitai

PORT MORESBY: Bougainville Affairs Minister Sam Akoitai said the Peace Monitoring Group (PMG) is playing a vital role in the peace process and will carry on during the new year.

The PMG, comprising a combined group of 300 military and civilian personnel from Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and Vanuatu, is under the command of Australia. Mr Akoitai said PMG's efforts are required to help strengthen peace as well as facilitate regular consultations between the National Government and key Bouganvillean groups. Mr Akoitai confirmed this in talks last week in Brisbane between senior officials of Australia, New Zealand, Vanuatu and PNG, who met to review the contribution that the PMG is making on Bougainville since it was established following the signing of the ceasefire agreement on April 30, this year. Mr Akoitai said that PNG is most grateful for the support that the four countries are providing through the PMG.

As PMG's support is not permanent, Mr Akoitai does not want the Bougainville groups or national agencies to become complacent in their efforts towards restoring civilian authority and services back onto the island. "Much work remains to be done under the peace process" he said. "Other issues discussed by senior officials last week, included progress towards restoration of services on Bougainville and promotion of public awareness of activities being carried out under the peace process" he added.

Mr Akoitai also said that he will meet with key aid donor groups after the Parliament session to review with them the work that they have carried out on Bougainville this year, and where possible to refocus their aid projects on activities that will sustain a lasting peace on the island as well as create more employment opportunities for youth, women and former rebel and resistance forces in the conflict.

Source:The National - 26 Nov 98

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BRA Rebels Fire at Helicopter

BOUGAINVILLE rebels dedicated to Francis Ona fired warning shots at a passing helicopter to re-affirm their no-fly zones set down by the rebel leaders following the peace treaty in Arawa.

Mr Ona confirmed this over the weekend saying that a helicopter owned by the Peace Monitoring Group on Bougainville was flying over no-fly zones in Panguna when members of his rebel group fired shots to warn it off. "I made it clear after the peace signing ceremony in Arawa that areas, within Panguna, Tunuru, Kongara, Aropa, Kangu beach, Torokina to West Coast and all through Crown Prince Range were no-fly zones to the PNG Government and the PMG" he said. "We are following international laws, we will see their continous flying over these areas as an act of aggression" he said. "We pointed out clearly in the beginning that the above mentioned areas were no-go and no-fly zones for PMG members, PNG Defence Force and the PNG Government."

Mr Ona warned however, that next time his men would shoot any helicopter or trespassers.

Source: POSTCOURIER - Mon 23 Nov 98

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Ona: Refugees not Getting Food

BOUGAINVILE rebel leader Francis Ona claimed yesterday that the PNG and Solomon Islands Governments have ordered the International Red Cross to stop feeding about 2000 Bougainville refugees in care centres in the Solomon Islands.

Mr Ona told the Post-Courier from his Guava village that a Bougainvillean who had just crossed the border back to Bougainville told him that Bougainvilleans in refugee camps in the Solomon Islands were no longer getting food rations from the Red Cross as in the past. "This is a very serious allegation and I call on the governments of PNG and Solomon Islands to allow the International Red Cross to continue to do its work otherwise the refugees will go hungry and die" he said. The Post-Courier tried unsuccessfully over the weekend to get comments from the PNG Red Cross. Chairman of the PNG Red Cross Society, Bernard Lukara who is based in East New Britain, is away on an overseas trip.

Since the crisis reached its height years ago, Bougainvilleans have been fleeing the island for safety, food, medicine and shelter in the neighboring Solomon Islands. Many Bougainvilleans have fled across the border at the height of the crisis following intensive fighting between rebels and PNG Government security forces. Many of these refugees were injured in the crossfire and had to flee across the border in search of medicine.

Mr Ona said that it was now extremely difficult for Bougainvilleans to return home because they did not have any money to pay their transport fees back home which was around K250 per person. Mr Ona said if the PNG Government was serious about bringing peace to Bougainville, it must provide transport for the refugees to return home. Mr Ona said he is very concerned for the safety and survival of the refugees in the Solomon Islands because they did not have land to make gardens. "As refugees, they cannot work and they cannot find food to survive." Mr Ona said.

Source: POSTCOURIER - Mon 23 Nov 98

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Going to School Great Way of Spreading Peace

THE peace message comes in many forms on the island of Bougainville.

Sometimes it is in the form of Nuis Bilong Peace, a newsletter produced by the Australian-led Peace Monitoring Group (PMG). Others are told of the peace process during meetings or informal get-togethers. But by far the most enjoyable form of spreading the words of peace is during a school visit.

The PMG has a program of school visits aimed at introducing members of the community to the faces of the monitoring group. It also gives some PMG staff, who are tied to desk-jobs, the chance to meet the children of Bougainville. Many of the PMG staff deployed to Bougainville on extended rotations of between three and six months have left family behind. The school visits also give them a chance to play parents while they spend the lengthy time away from their children.

Corporal Jason Griffiths says working with school children is particularly effective because they take home the peace message and pass it onto their parents. He says the visits are also a great emotional outlet. "I have a wife and two children at home and it helps when you are missing them to mix with the children" he said. "I find it easy to relate to them and when they smile and laugh, it makes you feel better about being away." He says he also enjoys being able to mix with the locals. "I'm usually bound to the headquarters. But on days like today, I'm able to join the local children."

Corporal Fred Mooka shares these sentiments. He has a wife and child back on Thursday Island and says while the past three and a half months has gone fast, the school visits allow him to share the parenting experience with the locals he has come to know. "I feel comfortable here and have come to know the locals quite well" he says. "It's good to be able to relate with the parents and to hear the children laugh and have fun."

Lance Corporal Kate Ottesen is able to join her occupation, as part of the production team for Nuis Bilong Peace, to participating in the school's visit. Sitting comfortably with the curious but sometimes shy children of the Arawa Community School, Kate listens to their chatter and hands out a magazine promoting peace. "Learning about peace needs to begin at an early age" she says. Major Lyndon Anderson says the activities enable the school children to come face-to-face with the PMG.

After playing three-legged soccer with Team Sergeant Major Mark Kjellgren, he says it is obvious that community spirit is rebuilding. Lamenting that they were not as co-ordinated as the Bougainvilleans, Major Anderson says the experience was good fun. "There is an excellent sense of community within the school here" he said. Sergeant Major Kjellgren says interacting with the kids was great and seeing parents at the school was also an encouraging sign that peace was here for good. "It's great to see families taking part in occasions such as this" he says. "It's also encouraging to see so many people happy and enjoying themselves. Peace has come a long way."

Revelling in the school spirit as the children laugh at the balloons being made from surgical hand-gloves, Corporal Jason Craig says children are the same around the world. "The kids love it" he says as he hands a balloon with a face on it to another happy customer.

Source:POSTCOURIER - 18 Nov 98

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Mine Leak in Solomon Islands

The Solomon Island's Minister for Energy, Mines and Minerals, Walton Naeson, says there's been another leakage of water from the Gold Ridge Mine.

Mr Naeson says the leakage from the mine's return water system was discovered on Sunday and caused the system to be shut-down to prevent further pollution. Water samples from the Tinahulu River have been sent to Fiji for analysis. Last month dead fish were found floating in the Tinahulu River after an earlier leakage of water from the mine.

Source:Radio Australia - 16:15:01 (AEDT) - 17 November 98

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Reconstruction, Recovery & Reconciliation in Bougainville

Centre for Peace Studies, University of New England


9.30am -4.30pm,Tuesday December 1-Wednesday December 2, 1998

Naamaroo Conference Centre (Uniting Church), Lady Game Drive, Chatswood (Sydney) 2067 (5 minutes by taxi from Chatswood railway station (Pacific Highway side; or catch the 550 'Northern & Western' bus from the station, get off at Fullers Bridge and walk 300 metres down Lady Game Drive). A map will be sent on receipt of the enrolment form.

Cost (please pay in advance ): $45 which includes lunches and morning and afternoon teas.

Bunk-style accommodation, including meals, is available at Naamaroo. Let us know if you would like us to book you in. The cost is uncertain but by Sydney standards is very cheap.

ENROLMENT FORM Due by Friday November 20th


First name

Name for nametag

Postal address


Would you like accommodation at Naamaroo? yes/no
If so, when are you likely to arrive?

Please make cheques payable to 'University of New England' Post to: Rebecca Spence, Education Studies, University of New England, Armidale 2351

Tentative paper titles (as at early October)
Further offers of papers or other presentations should be made as soon as possible to Rebecca Spence Tel 02 6773 5095 Fax 02 6773 3350 email

The CENTRE FOR PEACE STUDIES at the University of New England was established to coordinate and promote inter-disciplinary studies of conflict at all levels and of effective ways of resolving conflict. The Centre places major emphasis on ostgraduate study through its MLitt in Peace Studies and higher research degrees, as well as other teaching and research initiatives. It is currently coordinated by Associate Professor Geoff Harris of the Department of Economics.

Source: Rebecca Spence
Dept of Education Studies, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351.
Ph: 02 67735095 Fax: 02 67733350

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Contact Details:

BFM - Bougainville Freedom Movement (Coordination in Australia):
VIKKI JOHN - e-mail:
P.O. Box 134, Erskineville NSW 2043, Australia, Phone +61-2-9558-2730

BIG - Bougainville Interim Government
MOSES HAVINI (International Political Representative in Asia/Pacific)
PO Box 134, Erskinville, NSW 2043, Australia Phone/Fax +61-2-9804-7632 , Mobile +61-(0)414-226-428

MARTIN MIRIORI (International BIG Secretary in Europe, NL)
e-mail: (Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Org.)
Phone +31-55-577-99-60 , Fax +31-55-577-99-39

MAX WATTS - (specialised Journalist) email:
P.O. Box 98, Annandale NSW 2038, Australia
Phone +61-2-9564-1147 , Phone/Fax +61-2-9818-2343 (work)