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Bougainville Archive - April 1999

This page carries April 1999's Bougainville news updates.

Also on this site: latest updates and index of archives

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: April 1999


Downer Upbeat on Bougainville

AUSTRALIA'S Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer has applauded the latest step towards lasting peace on Bougainville.

Mr Downer said he welcomed the signing in New Zealand on April 22 of the Matakana and Okataina Understanding between the PNG Government and the leaders of Bougainville. "It is another milestone in the Bougainville peace process," he said. "I congratulate all the participants for the strength of leadership they have displayed in finding common ground." He said all groups had re-committed themselves to the letter and the spirit of the Lincoln Agreement and also set out some extra practical steps for reaching a negotiated settlement. Leaders from Port Moresby and Bougainville had again demonstrated that they could meet widespread expectations for peace. "I do not under-estimate the challenges that still lie ahead," Mr Downer said. "After years of conflict and suffering, reconciliation and trust will not always come easily. But nor do I under-estimate the capacity of Prime Minister Bill Skate, his government and the leaders of Bougainville to steer the peace process through the remaining difficulties towards a lasting settlement."

Source: Postcourier - 30 April 1999

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Skate Marks Anniversary of Ceasefire Agreement

MARKING the first anniversary of the Arawa Ceasefire Agreement, the Prime Minister has called on the people of Bougainville and Papua New Guinea to reaffirm their commitment to achieving peace and normalcy on the island.

"While the road to peace on Bougainville has not been as smooth as many of us might like, the progress of the peace process has been very encouraging," Mr Skate said. Mr Skate highlighted several major achievements on Bougainville over the past two years, such as the Burnham and Lincoln agreements. "The guns have been silent since the Burnham Truce came into effect in October 1997, while the signing of the Lincoln Ceasefire in January 1998 provided a comprehensive framework for continuing co-operation." Mr Skate said the Government and Bougainville leaders also renewed their commitment to co-operate with the signing of the Matakana and Okataina Understanding in New Zealand last week. "All signatories to the Matakana and Okataina Understanding agreed that the responsibility for consolidating anda building on what we have achieved is ours," he said. Mr Skate said an important milestone such as the anniversary of the ceasefire calls for a celebration. "Let us join together in remembering who have suffered during the crisis and re-commit ourselves to ensuring that nothing similar happens again."

The Arawa Ceasefire Agreement was signed on April 30, 1998.

Source: Postcourier - 30 April 99

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BRA: NZ Seal 'A Sell-Out'

THE Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) yesterday broke away from the apparent consensus for peace reached at talks in New Zealand last week.

BRA leader Sam Kauona's righthand man, Robinson Asitau, said the organisation had not signed the agreement and dissociated itself from the document. Mr Asitau's statement spoke critically of New Zealand's role and claimed other Bougainville leaders had "sold out" to PNG. He said what had started as a "study tour" for leaders to New Zealand was "cleverly planned" into a major negotiation session, but with officers and lawyers for the rebels and other leaders notably absent. State negotiator Sir John Kaputin organised talks which, supported by Prime Minister Bill Skate, led to the signing of the Matakana and Okataina Understanding on April 22. Mr Asitau, secretary to Mr Kauona, said the "snap negotiation" was a carefully orchestrated set-up to trap leaders into signing a document, which had been prepared months ago in Port Moresby. Without advice from their lawyers and technical officers, Bougainville leaders had been unprepared for it, he said. Mr Asitau said it was unprofessional manipulation by a "supposedly neutral party". He said the New Zealand Government must make its position clear, whether it was a "facilitator" or whether it had had taken over the Bougainville agenda. He said New Zealand's own experience with the Maori situation was still unresolved and that it was not the "blue print" that Bougainville wanted to emulate. "While we view the so-called Matakana and Okataina Understanding as clearly not binding, incomplete, uncertain, ineffectual without the signatures of the BRA; its intent is however devastating to the Bougainville parties and is set to completely unravel the fruits of our labor since the Burnham Declaration and tries to reverse some parts of past agreements," said Mr Asitau.

The adviser was critical of Bougainville leaders, including Joseph Kabui of the Bougainville Interim Government, and Gerard Sinato, signing the agreement and giving away "more powers of the people to the PNG Government than they understood". He said the "devil" was in the details, as seen in the following:

Mr Asitau said the BRA was seriously rethinking its position within the entire peace process. "Underhand" tactics and moves as recently orchestrated by NZ and PNG under the study tour undermined the credibility of the peace process. Countries participating in the peace process were reminded there was no room for a NATO/Kosovo method on Bougainville.

Source: Postcourier - 30 April 1999

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BRA Media Release

BOUGAINVILLE: The Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) is not a signatory and disassociates itself from the recently signed Matakana and Okataina Understanding, indicated as signed in New Zealand at Lake Okataina on 22nd day April 1999. Speaking from Bougainville Senior BRA Officer and Secretary to General Sam Kauona, Robinson Asitau said what appeared to be a "study tour" got cleverly planned into a major negotiation session with PNG's Sir John Kaputin; supported by Prime Minister Bill Skate - where BIG/BRA Officers/lawyers and other Bougainville men and women leaders were notably absent, but not by choice. This "snap negotiation" was a carefully orchestrated set-up to trap some of our leaders into signing a document; prepared before hand in Port Moresby, dated 22nd January 1999, and something that Bougainville leaders were totally unprepared for, without the advice from their lawyers and technical officers. This is the first time such unprofessionalism, and deliberate manipulation by a supposedly "neutral party" has been seen since the peace process started in 1997, said Mr. Asitau

"Whilst we acknowledge the work of the Peace Monitoring Group in Bougainville, their role is basically to monitor the peace process according to set agreements, and not manipulate it according to their own interests. The New Zealand Government must now make its position clear whether it is a "facilitator", or whether it has indeed taken over the Bougainville agenda; to run, direct and try to formulate according to its own NZ/Maori experiences - that I understand is still unresolved with all the Maori Nations in New Zealand", said Mr. Asitau from Bougainville. "The Maori experience, and especially that of the Tainui Tribe model (which is a mere local-level government type arrangement), is the least of all "blue prints" that we in Bougainville would like to emulate. The New Zealand/Maori sets of experiences have no direct application to the Bougainville experience", said Mr.Asitau.

"Let me make it clear that the NZ/Maori arrangement is no precedent for Bougainville to follow. They are just merely fighting to get their land and fishing rights back, which were stolen from them by white New Zealanders in the 1800s. We are fighting for the complete to self-determination of our people. The Maori Nations as far as we can understand are being advised not to fight for self-determination and independence outside of the New Zealand political frame-work but merely to be economically and socially independent within the existing structure", said Mr.Asitau. "Whilst we view the so-called "Matakana &Okataina Understanding" as clearly not binding, incomplete, uncertain, ineffectual without the signatures of the BRA; its intent is however devastating to the Bougainville parties and is set to completely unravel the fruits of our labour since the Burnham Declaration and tries to reverse some parts of past agreements", said Mr.Asitau. Whilst the Bougainville Parties were without their lawyers and technical officers, Mr.Kabui and Mr.Sinato and other Bougainville parties who signed the so-called "Understanding" gave away more powers of the people to the PNG Government than they understood", said an angry Asitau from Bougainville.

The 'devil' is in the details as we can see in some of the following:

"The BRA is now seriously rethinking its position within the entire peace process. Underhand tactics and moves as recently orchestrated by NZ and PNG under the so-called "study tour", only goes to undermine the credibility of the peace process. Countries participating in the peace process are reminded that there is no room for a NATO/KOSOVO method of conflict resolution on Bougainville. You are not there to impose your "brand" of peace on Bougainville but to monitor that peace process whilst the people themselves work it out with the state of Papua New Guinea," concluded Mr.Asitau from Bougainville.

Source: Mr. Robinson Asitau - Bougainville

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Bougainville Independence still on Agenda, says Rebel Leader

RABAUL: Nobody should think that the issue of independence is over following the signing of the Matakana and Okataina Understanding in New Zealand last week, rebel spokesman Andrew Miriki said.

"No body had pushed the issue of independence under the bridge," he said. Mr Miriki made the remark in reaction to Laitena Council of Chiefs chairman Joel Latu Banam and Resistance forces commander Hilary Masiria's statement last week in Buka that the issue of independence was a non-issue following the signing of the agreement. The leaders of the different factions (signatories to the understanding) had agreed to stop making media statements that would promote argument among themselves, thus endangering the spirit of the Understanding.

Speaking from Buin yesterday, Mr Miriki said it was not his intention to go to the media but because the two leaders (Mr Masiria and Mr Banam) had made a public statement on the issue of independence, the rebels would like to remind the public that they took part in the signing of the agreement as they felt that it was necessary to do so. Mr Miriki also said the rebel faction agreed to the contents of the understanding because most of the issues were subject for further negotiation. "The understanding was signed mainly to bring the leaders together to further negotiate the outstanding issues. It was never done with the purpose of bringing the the issues to an end," he said. Mr Miriki admitted that the issue of independence was not included in the understanding for discussion but they will take it up in future talks as it still remained as their main agenda for discussion in the peace process.

Source: by Philip Kepson - The National - 29 April 99

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Bougainvilleans' Plea: We Want our Money Back

A GROUP of Bougainvilleans who have spent many months in Rabaul trying to chase up their savings with commercial banks have pleaded with the Government to intervene.

Yesterday, two group spokesmen Gregory Osikore and Michael Biare, both from Kieta in Central Bougainville, said thousands of Bougainvilleans were suffering at home because they could not get their money which they saved with commercial banks before the 1989 start of the Bougainville crisis. All money belonging to Bougainvilleans who did not use their accounts within the crisis period have been forfeited to the Government. That money can be claimed by their owners or owners of accounts if they can prove their identities. Mr Osikore and Mr Biare said the problem was with the Government's Finance Department, not the commercial banks. Mr Osikore has spent seven months in Rabaul trying to get his money. Mr Miare has been on the same path for four months in Rabaul. They said they were pleased with the commercial banks, which were doing all they could to help. "If the National Government is really serious about assisting the real Bougainvillean grassroots, it should set up a committee, or body, to specifically look into this banking crisis with a view to paying all those people who have genuinely been proven to be the owners of passbooks," Mr Osikore said.

He said people had hidden in the jungles for years, and had no way to contact the banks. Since peace was declared, thousands of people had been pouring out from the jungles, with many now struggling to get their savings to start a new life. "However, travelling out of Bougainville is a very expensive exercise and it also takes a long time to actually get money," said Mr Osikore, who has just been told he will get his savings after battling for seven months. His friend, Kiare, who brought seven other passbook accounts and statutory declarations for the passbook owners from Buka, said he will have to wait a further four months before he gets an answer. If the Government helped the people in this way, the people would use their own money to rebuild their lives instead of relying on the Government to feed and clothe them. "It is ridiculous how poor Bougainvilleans are travelling hundreds of kilometres to look for money which belongs to them while the Government goes jet setting with a few Bougainvilleans to other countries to fix up their personal worries," he said.

The Papua New Guinea Banking Corporation has announced it will pay in advance half of any money in any account, which will be repaid when the Government releases payments.

Source: Postcourier - 29 April 99

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Bougainville Elections Hitched by Momis Case

THE Bougainville Reconciliation Government elections were postponed at the last minute on Friday afternoon.

A directive from the Minister for State assiting the Prime Minister on Bougainville Affairs, Sam Akoitai, advising that the elections had been postponed for about a week, was received at 3.30pm on Friday in Buka, with election officials advised accordingly. The reason and the nature of the postponement was that the Supreme Court would be ruling on a court case involving Bougainville Regional Member John Momis and the NEC. Chief returning officer on Bougainville, Mathias Pihei, expressed satisfaction with the instruction, saying it would give his officers time to sort out minor administrative arrangements for the elections to run smoothly. The directive to postpone the elections reached the island just before the Bougainville delegation returned from New Zealand. On arrival, co-chairman of the Bougainville Constituent Assembly, Gerard Sinato, formally announced that the elections would be postponed, until after the Supreme Court ruling on the case between Johna Momis and the NEC.

Mr Pihei said his officers were prepared to get the polling underway as scheduled until the announcement for the postponement was made. Mr Pihei said new dates would not be issued until after the Supreme Court ruling was handed down. Mr Pihei also reconfirmed that the Resistance force on Bougainville had retracted threats made to polling officials. The Resistance force has been making threats to disrupt the elections. The latest was made last Tuesday in a letter given to Mr Pihei, with copies to helicopter companies in Buka, informing them not to transport ballot boxes until their leader returned from the talks. "I am very pleased with the outcome of New Zealand talks which to me has shown the type of spirit that is prevailing among the leaders of Bougainville. Polling officials and myself have recovered the confidence and will now freely conduct the elections without fear whenever the new dates will be announced," he said.

On the Makatana/Okataina understanding signed last Thursday by leaders of all factions on Bougainville, Mr Pihei said the agreements must be hailed by all Bougainvilleans. He said once again the leaders had shown that there was a spirit of understanding among them. "It has addressed the basic issues of the disagreements by factions and I only hope it can continue to guide our leaders as we continue the peace process," he saidResistance forces chairman Hillary Masiria has called for all Bougainvillean leaders to be united as from the signing of this agreement. He will be issuing a statement in the next few days.

Joel Banam, chairman of Leitana Council of Elders, was in a happy mood and also will make an official statement soon. The people of Bougainville have taken the postponement calmly. People interviewed from the areas of Buka and Kokopau on the northern tip of Bougainville have expressed satisfaction on the outcome of the New Zealand talks and the postponement of the elections. They have called on the leaders to be united for a longer lasting solution instead of continuing to create confusion for the people.

A candidate for the Selau constituency, Peter Basik, expressed concern at the postponement, saying the leaders and the National Government were only confusing the people further. He said Bougainville was a special case and therefore the elections should go ahead. He said however, that there needed to be an awareness campaign to inform people on the reasons for the postponement.

Source: Postcourier - 27 April 99

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Election Due on Bougainville Postponed Indefinitely

An election due to have commenced on Bougainville over the weekend has been postponed.

The election had been called by some factions on the island - after a vote for a reconciliation government scheduled for March did not go ahead. Electoral officers were ready to proceed on Saturday, but Papua New Guinea's Minister of State, Sam Akoitai , told them the election will be deferred indefinitely. Mr Akoitai said the delay will allow time for Bougainville leaders to inform people about a new agreement signed by the leaders at talks in New Zealand last week.

Source: Radio Australia - World News, 26 April 99

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PNG Government Recommences Sandline Legal Action

The Papua New Guinea Government has again commenced legal action to avoid paying a debt to the Sandline mercenary company.

The Government owes Sandline at least 30 million dollars -- for the aborted 1997 deal to hire mercenaries to fight Bougainville rebels. An international arbitration panel found last year that P-N-G must pay the debt, and an appeal against that ruling to the Queensland Supreme Court failed. It's understood a Brisbane law firm has filed notice of a further appeal to the Queensland Supreme Court. Sandline has said it will begin seizing P-N-G assets to recover its debt - but the P-N-G Government has vowed it will not pay.

Source: Radio Australia - World News - 23 April 1999

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Breakthrough at Bougainville Talks

Leaders agree to discuss political future By FRANK SENGE KOLMA

ROTORUA: Bougainville leaders meeting here agreed yesterday to discuss the political future of the troubled province for the first time since the 10-year-old crisis began. Called the Matakana and Okataina Understanding, the agreement commits all parties in the Bougainville process to contribute to the preparation of proposals on the powers, functions, structure and status of a future Bougainville Government. Matakana and Okataina are two areas on the North Island of New Zealand where the leaders held their discussions this week. The burden of the preparation of the proposals has fallen on Special State Negotiator, Sir John Kaputin, in full consultation with and after taking written submissions from all parties concerned. The meeting directed Sir John and his team to have the package ready for deliberation no later than June 30, 1999. The leaders also pledged themselves to maintain the ceasefire agreed to during the Lincoln Agreement as they work towards a negotiated settlement on the political future of Bougainville.

The leaders:

Detailed plans are to be drawn up for the phased withdrawal of the security forces on Bougainville. The agreement was hailed by all leaders and New Zealand's former Governor-General and chairman of this "study tour", Sir Paul Reeve, as a breakthrough that may well pave the way for lasting peace.

In the end it was not the rebels but the Buka delegation, comprising Joel Banam representing the Leitana Council of Chiefs and Hillary Masiria representing the Resistance that were providing the strongest opposition to the talks. They felt they had been left out of the discussions leading to the formation of the Bougainville Constituent Assembly (BCA). But in the end, they agreed to work together with the other leaders of Bougainville. BCA co-chairman Joseph Kabui said of the understanding reached: "I salute all of us. I hope and pray that we can move on. I believe that we have passed the most critical part of the peace process." Mr Banam of the Leitana Council of Chiefs said: "The major constraint has been in the division among the leadership. The key to our way forward is open and effective communication. That has now been achieved. The people of Buka are now waiting for some services to be restored to what it was before the crisis began." Co-chairman Gerard Sinato said: "We have touched the core of a new deal, a new spirit and a new Bougainville." Sir Paul Reeve, while congratulating the leaders, also urged them to move forward with a Maori saying: "Be strong, be bold, be strong hearted, and be united with one another." Prime Minister Mr Bill Skate told the leaders: "It is now up to you. I can only facilitate. You know the problems. You know the answers. I think you have found the answer and that is the leadership. I leave here a happy man."

The understanding was signed by Sir John Kaputin, Mr Akoitai, MPs John Momis, Michael Ogio and Michael Laimo, Mr Kabui, Mr Sinato, Mr Banam and Mr Masiria. It was witnessed by Sir Paul.

Source: The National - 23 April 99

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Factions Talk of "Lasting Peace" on Bougainville

Leaders of the Papua New Guinean government and various factions on Bougainville, have committed themselves to continuing the ceasefire on the wartorn island, and to securing a lasting peace.

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Bill Skate and Bougainvillean leaders have been meeting in Rotorua, New Zealand, to discuss disarmament and the future governance of Bougainville. The leaders have released a communique referred to as the Matakana and Okataina Understanding. In the communique, they pledge to maintain the ceasefire, and work towards a negotiated political settlement of Bougainville's long-term political future. The leaders said a special state negotiator would prepare a package on the powers, functions, structure and status of Bougainville's future government, which would be geared to Bougainville's needs. It was agreed that political leaders would meet to discuss the package no later than June the 30th.

Source: Radio Australia - World News - 23 April 1999

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Bougainville Leaders Pledge to End Political Faction Fighting

Bougainville leaders have pledged to end political faction fighting and work more closely to determine the island's future.

The leaders met in New Zealand this week near Rotorua, with Papau New Guinea Prime Minister Bill Skate. Negotiations on Bougainville's political future have been bogged down for months. Correspondents say the leaders will have been encouraged by significant offers from the Papua New Guinea Government, mainly the possible lifting of the suspension of the Bougainville Provinciial Government. And the parties have agreed that disarmament should begin immediately, with assistance from New Zealand, under United Nations supervision. Richard Dinnen reports, the leaders met in New Zealand this week, and it's hoped their latest agreement will breathe new life into the peace process.

Negotiations on Bougainville's political future have been bogged down for months. This week's meeting near Rotorua, attended by leaders and PNG Prime Minister Bill Skate, may have broken the deadlock. The leaders have agreed to work together, despite their political differences, some of which may be eased by a plan for a more consultative approach to creating a new local government structure on the island. The leaders will have been encouraged by significant offers from the Papua New Guinea Government, mainly the possible lifting of the suspension of the Bougainville Provinciial Government. And one key sticking point appears to have been resolved. The parties have agreed that disarmament should begin immediately, with assistance from New Zealand, under United Nations supervision.

Source: Radio Australia - World News - 23 April 1999

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Bougainville Anticipates Quality Government

IN VIEW of the credentials of candidates contesting the Bougainville reconciliation governmenta election, the representative body will be a quality one.

As nominations closed last week, 202 candidates have been recorded for the 69 electoral constituencies in the province.a Previously there were 18 constituencies, but this year, an additional 51 new electoral boundaries were drawn. Sixteen of the candidates are standing unopposed, with the inclusion of notable BRA leader Joseph Kabui and another senior rebel leader, Jonathan Ngati. The two women contesting are Mary Mamatau a women leader who was the Buin womens spokesperson during the Pan-Bougainville meeting last year,a contesting the Konnou constituency in the Buin electorate against eight male counterparts and Margaret Pisiorara, contesting the Keriaka constituency against three men. Provincial Returning Officer, Mathias Pihei said many experienced and highly qualified Bougainvilleans from all walks of life have nominated to stand for the elections into the reconciliation government of the Bougainville People's Congress.

Many former Bougainville Transitional members including premier Gerard Sinatoa have also nominated. They are (Candidate - Constituency): Gerad Sinato - Rapois; Thomas Anis - Haku 2; William Lavabua - Tomau; Nick Penia - Siwai; Joseph Watawi - Selau; Richard Lyons - Haku 3; Andrew Topensi - Pinipel; Joseph Eigilio - Bohi .   Other prominent Bougainvilleans include: George - Tsitalato; Thomas Tohiana - Halia; Aloysius Nase - Tsitalato; Ussiah Toukkes - Tonsu; Andrew Mirikia - Wisai; John Pirigia - Lenoke; Linus Konukung - Makis.

"The fact that highly qualified people from various fields of work are contesting means that people really mean business and that we will have a quality government in place to act as the Bougainville peoples mouthpiece," Mr Pihei said. He is hoping that the government make additionala funds available for the smooth running of the elections scheduled for April 24. The Bougainville Constituent Assembly (BCA) is facilitating the elections and has made funds available but Mr Pihei said he has requested for a K400,000 assistance from the national government, but to date has only received half. He said he is hoping for the monies to be released by next week.

Preparations for the elections are running smoothly despite threats issued by the Leitana Council of Chiefs (LCC) from Buka Island. He said the LCC are not opposing the elections but want it to be referred untila pressing issues such as disarmament are addressed. He said this is placing the polling officers in a very insecure position and he wants the Bougainville leaders currently meeting in New Zealand to immediately come to an agreement and common ground on the issue. "As the days come closer to the polling date, tension is mounting and the threats are becoming clear. We are hoping that the New Zealand talks come up with something to diffuse the situation. There is no other way to solve this problem we have on hand but for the leaders to decide together and arrive at a common agreement. They have to do something immediately otherwise, the polling will be halted. We are seriously concerned for the safety of the polling officers as the police force will not be engaged in the elections apart from carrying out their normal duties. My biggest disappointment is the non-involvement of police but this is all part ofa politics on Bougainville, " Mr Pihei said.

On the legality of the elections, he said there has been so much argument but the province is going by the Lincoln Agreement under which a reconciliation government was supposed to have been established by last December. However, due to other important and urgent issues such as the cease-fire and the call out, the formation of the Bougainville Reconciliation Government (BRG) was deferred until now. He said under the the Lincoln agreement, Bougainville needed a reconciliation government, one which would unite all factions on the island including the pro-PNG BTG and resistance, the seccesionist BRA/BIG and the communities at large on the island. Two opposing establishments, he said were breaking up and disuniting the island. He said the national government is supporting next week's election which is to vote members into the BRG.

Source: by Veronica Hatutasi - The Independent (PNG) Newspaper - 16 April 99

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Call for Australia to do More to Help Bougainville Peace

The Deputy Chairman of the Australian Parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs has called on the Australian Foreign Minister to become more pro-active on Bougainville.

Dr Andrew Theophanous says a great deal of work needs to be done on the technical issues surrounding what form of autonomy Bougainville may eventually achieve. He believes that Australia could provide legal and constitutional experts to help the Bougainvilleans and the Papua New Guinea Government more clearly define the possible alternatives. Dr Theophanous says the New Zealand Foreign Minister, Don McKinnon, has been far more active than Alexander Downer, as the current trip by Bougainville leaders to New Zealand illustrates. And I congratulate Mr McKinnon on that. But why can't Australia participate more in these matters? At the constitutional and political level we should be offering our assistance. I'm not saying we should make the determinations. But the people that I spoke to from various groups all said they would welcome assistance on these questions.

Source: Radio Australia - World News - 16 April 99

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B'ville Police Face Dilemma

BOUGAINVILLE police are still waiting for directives from headquarters about getting involved in the coming Bougainville Reconciliation Government elections.

Provincial police commander Chief Inspector Joel Kean told the Post-Courier in Buka that despite being kept in the dark over its involvement, police would be placed on full alert if the safety and security of lives and properties were put in risk. Mr Kean said he had asked police headquarters whether police could be involved, but no reply had yet been received. "Basically I am in the dark on this matter. However, may I point out here that police will be placed on full alert in case there is trouble. But again at this stage we are not going to be involved, this means we will not be physically present at polling booths or locations." Mr Kean said this was a unique election situation in which police would not be involved, as was always the case during any election. He said he was aware that people would boycott the elections, while others would be stopped from casting their aaaaa votes, polling officials would be blocked from conducting elections and also he had information that a protest march is being planned to show dissatisfaction over the election. "Under the PNG Constitution people have the right to freedom, the right to life, the right to freedom from inhuman treatment, freedom to vote and freedom of speech. Above all, people of this country have the right to the full protection of the law. "As the PPC of Bougainville, I will instruct my men to do patrols but we won't be physically stationing our men at the polling venues."

Source: POSTCOURIER - 15 April 99

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Australia Should send Observers to Polls, says Panel

SYDNEY: A Senate committee examining the Bougainville peace process yesterday called for Australia to send observers to forthcoming elections for a reconciliation government on the war-torn Papua New Guinean island.

Committee deputy chairman Dr Andrew Theophanous also called on Foreign Minister Alexander Downer to ensure there was international acceptance of the outcome of the April 24 poll. Australia should see that all the various forces on the large island to Australia's north were represented in the election. "If there isn't an acceptance of the election as fair and democratic and representative of the people of Bougainville by any substantial group, then we will have strife in terms of any future possibilities," Dr Theophanous told AAP. "Since there will be disagreements about the constitution anyway, it's very important that the assembly be seen as representative of the people of Bougainville in going forward to negotiations." The Senate committee was told by Bougainville Freedom Movement (BFM) representatives yesterday that about 500 PNG troops remaining on the island were an impediment to continued peace. BFM representative in Australia, Moses Havini, said the troops, while not armed, are "just sitting around" on the island and should be removed under terms of an agreement which required a demilitarisation of the island which has just emerged from 10 years of war.

Source: The National - 14 April 99

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The Majority Support BRG Polls, say Rebels

RABAUL: Rebels claim the majority of the Bougainvilleans support the reconciliation government election.

Their spokesman Andrew Miriki said this week that it is not true that the majority of the population in Buka Island oppose the BRG election. He said the fact that a total of 38 were nominated for various constituencies in Buka, the largest number compared to other parts of Bougainville, indicates that many people are in support of the BRG election. Mr Miriki made the statement in response to Laitena council of clients chairman Joel Banam who said last week that the majority of the population in Buka do not support the BRG election. The resistance force group on the island also said last week that the elections were illegal because certain Bougainville leaders, mainly the Sinato/Kabui faction, were not following election rules in line with the constitution of Papua New Guinea. Their chief concern was the issue of disarmament, which they say should be addressed before the elections. Mr Miriki, however, maintained that the formation of the BRG was in line with the Lincoln agreement. He said it is in line with the wish of the majority of the Bougainville, and that it is sad to see people who signed the Lincoln Agreement appear to make comments as if they were not party to the agreements. "What's going on now in Bougainville are in line with what they wanted to see happening after nine years of bloodshed through the signing of the Lincoln Agreement," said Mr Miriki. "The results of the election would tell whether we are promoting the wish of the people or that our opposition is right in saying that we are wrong."

On the nominations for the BRG election since it closed last Tuesday, electoral officials in Buka said a total of 199 candidates have been so far nominated for the 69 constituencies. Chief provincial returning officer Mathias Pehei said the Buka district had the highest nominations with 38 candidates, followed by Buin (37), Siwai (23), Arawa, Tinpuntz, Baua, and the Attols with 14 each, Wakunai (13), Kunua (12), Torokina (10), Nisan Island (9), and Selau/Suir (8). The polling begins on April 24 and would take four days, said Mr Pehei.

Source: The National - 14 April 99

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Bougainville Truth Commission Proposal

SYDNEY: An aid body has canvassed the idea of a truth and reconciliation commission for Bougainville to help harmonise factional relations following the recent war on the island.

Catholic aid group Caritas Australia was discussing the idea on the island where it carried out aid work, Caritas spokesman John Scott-Murphy said here yesterday. "We are simply asking the people of Bougainville about that idea," Mr Scott-Murphy told an Australian parliamentary hearing into the Bougainville peace process. "We've produced a discussion paper to help that discussion and we hope to workshop that in various places on Bougainville." He agreed to provide a copy of the paper to the parliamentary committee. The model being considered was inspired by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission process in South Africa and other areas of the world, he said.

Source: The National - 14 April 99

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Jobs Key to Curbing Violence on Bougainville

MELBOURNE: The demobilisation of young Bougainville men without finding them jobs could lead to violence and gang crime of the kind plaguing other parts of Papua New Guinea, aid agency World Vision warned here yesterday.

It also warned of the law and order problems resulting from people drinking home brew in Bougainville because alcohol was prohibited. The prohibition had resulted in many deaths because inventive locals were producing their own brews, which often contained more than 70 per cent alcohol, World Vision said in its submission. World Vision told the foreign affairs joint standing committee's Bougainville inquiry how young ex-combatants were leaving the bush for Bougainville towns, such as Arawa. "There is an urgent need to offer education, training and employment opportunities to give these young warriors alternative sources of power and prestige to fighting or carrying a gun," its submission said. World Vision officer Roslyn McDonald, who was stationed on Buka until November last year, told the inquiry: "A lot of these young men had put down their guns and some of them were picking up a bottle". There seemed to be no "peace dividend" for them, with the kind of economic opportunities they wanted not available, she said during public hearings in Melbourne yesterday. World Vision said setting up a Bougainville police force with young, former fighters could offer them jobs and might hasten the withdrawal of security forces. "Some see that the demobilisation of ex-combatants without employment opportunities creates the potential for crime and violence exhibited by raskol gangs in other parts of PNG," it said. "Some incidents of this kind have already occurred in various parts of Bougainville."

But Moral Re-Armament told the inquiry most of the former freedom fighters could not meet the year 10 minimum education standard required for membership of the Bougainville auxiliary police force. Hundreds who wanted to join were being rejected. "If these former combatants cannot be involved in the developing process they will become disgruntled and may well turn against the (peace) process," its submission warned. Moral Rearmament's Bougainville project director, Alan Weeks, said Bougainville contacts told him young men were becoming impatient at being left out of the reconstruction, so some villages were forming their own, unofficial auxiliary police without the year 10 requirement.

Source: The National - 13 April 99

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Reopening Panguna will cost A$1 billion: BCL

MELBOURNE: Reopening the suspended Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL) mine would cost up to A$1 billion (K1.5 billion) and take three years, the company told a federal parliamentary inquiry in Melbourne yesterday.

BCL executive director Peter Taylor told the committee inquiring into the Bougainville peace process that a lot of the mine's property was believed to have deteriorated or been destroyed since operations stopped there in 1989. "We've stated somewhere between half (a billion) and a billion dollars (would be necessary to restart the mine)," Mr Taylor said. But BCL had been denied access to the mine since 1990 and was therefore unable to assess the state of its infrastructure. He said the estimated time of re-establishing the mine was three years. "There's a lot to be done," he told the joint standing committee on foreign affairs, defence and trade. The mine was PNG's first major mining project and had an annual production of 166,000 tonnes of copper and 450,000 ounces of gold a year when it closed. It employed 3,000 PNG citizens and 600 overseas employees, but now employs no-one, BCL's written submission to the inquiry stated. Mining giant Rio Tinto owns 53.6 per cent of BCL, the PNG government 19.1 per cent and the public 27.3 per cent. Many PNG citizens, including Bougainville citizens, owned shares in the company, the submission stated. The company was conscious of the potential for it to affect the peace process with any statement or action on Bougainville and would not take action thought to be detrimental, its written submission stated. Reopening the mine would be premature while the peace process was still being worked out, the head of Community Aid Abroad (CAA) later told the hearing. CAA executive director Jeremy Hobbs said mining companies had acknowledged that matters had been handled badly at the beginning of the crisis in Bougainville. He said it would be "a shame" to muddy the water with economic considerations in what was a fragile political process.

Source: The National - 13 April 99

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Meeting of Bougainville Leaders Cancelled

A proposed meeting of Bougainville leaders set down for this week will NOT take place. As Richard Dinnen reports some Bougainville leaders have refused to attend.

The New Zealand Government had offered to host a meeting -- and fly participants from Bougainville to New Zealand. The trip had been described as a study tour -- Bougainville leaders would have met Maori leaders and studied their approach to conflict resolution. But it was hoped the trip would somehow give new impetus to the Bougainville peace process -- which appears to have stalled. Representatives of the Bougainville Resistance Force and the Buka chiefs have refused to go to New Zealand, and the P-N-G Government says the trip will NOT proceed. Bougainville leaders are split on the issue of disarmament, and over an election later this month which some say will be illegal.

Source: Radio Australia - 13 April 1999

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Bougainville Rebuild Slow

An Australian Foreign Affairs committee predicts it will take a long time to rebuild Bougainville after years of conflict on the island.

The committee is examining Australia's role in the peace process, at public hearings this week in Melbourne and Sydney. Liberal MP and committee chairman, David Jull, says the reconstruction will be very slow. "A small group of us went to Bougainville three or four weeks ago and spoke to all the players both on the island and in Port Moresby, which gave us a better indication of not only what is going on but the extent of the devastation and of the needs of the Bougainvilleans themselves," Mr Jull said. "There has been very little in the way of education, very little in the way of health services, very little in the way of maintenance on Bougainville now for nine to 10 years."

Source: ABC Radio - 12 April 1999

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Australia continues to play major role in Bougainville peace process.

An Australian government sub-committee says the nation continues to play a major role in the peace process on Bougainville. The committee is taking submissions at public hearings in Melbourne and Sydney this week, following a recent visit to the area. Federal Liberal Party Parliamentarian and committee chair, David Jull, says Australia still has more to do.

Source: Radio Australia - 12 April 99

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Bougainville Through the Eyes of the Children

The day PNG soldiers fired at us

THE night was quiet, the bush creatures were still asleep when I suddenly heard a strange sound in the distance. It was during the crisis, my family and I were sleeping in our refugee camp when I suddenly heard a strange sound ahead of us. I was wondering in which direction the strange sound was approaching. I felt a bit scared because I was the only one awake. I quickly and quietly whispered to each of my family members asking them if they could hear the sound. We all sat down and waited to hear the strange and mysterious sound. Then we quickly realised that it was the sound of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force's helicopter. To our surprise we saw the helicoper over us and heard bullets flying through the leaves of the trees near our refugee camp. All my family members ran and threw themselves into a nearby cliff. But I stood up and watched the helicopter flying from side to side while the members of the Defence Force fired guns towards our refugee camp. Suddenly my father shouted at me saying, "come and hide you're not made of iron." Following my father's command I walked over to them and told them: "Let not your heart be troubled. Don't you know God cares for us, because he has promised to be our refuge and strength and will be present to help us in times of trouble like this". Recalling back my days during the crisis, I will never forget that particular day.

Source: THE INDEPENDENT (PNG Newspaper) - 9 April 99

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Yaki Queries Church's Role

PORT MORESBY: Minister for Foreign Affairs Roy Yaki has defended the Government against criticisms by Archbishop Brian Barnes of the Catholic Church while launching a counter-attack on the archbishop.

Mr Yaki said Bishop Barnes did have a role in helping to develop good leaders and to help maintain balance and harmony in society, but that his Easter message "is the most destructive, volatile and at the real point of igniting a revolt". Is that a role of a church leader?" he asked, adding: "I demand Bishop Barnes withdraw his statement. His statement clearly is a call for uprising and bloodshed". In his Easter message, Bishop Barnes said there was a need to change the Government because people were suffering and there was worse to come. Minister Yaki accused Bishop Barnes of abusing the spirit of Easter and of exposing his personal bias and political inclinations. The minister said it was common knowledge that there was collaboration between the bishop and the orchestrated campaign to incite trouble against the Government by the leader of the Opposition. "Unfortunately the bishop prefers violence and revolution to get rid of a legitimate government. I think the bishop is really confused," Mr Yaki said, adding that this Government had inherited 23 years of problems, including a budget with a huge K56 million gap created by the Chan/Haiveta government because of the Sandline deal. "I ask, where was Bishop Barnes and his church when this event overtook the country? The unresolved Bougainville crises was another burden this Government took over. Where was Bishop Barnes and his church, the most dominant and the most influential church on Bougainville? With its influence and being the richest church in PNG what has Bishop Barnes done to help resolve the Bougainville crisis?" Noting that Bishop Barnes had called for "transparency," he said: "Yes indeed we all support it, but charity begins at home. It is time the biggest landlord, the richest church in Papua New Guinea begins to be transparent by example."

Source: The National - 9 April 99

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Churches Back Barnes Call for Govt Change

PORT MORESBY: The PNG Council of Churches yesterday supported a call for a change of the Government made earlier by Archbishop Brian Barnes of the Port Moresby Catholic Archdiocese. Only the Salvation Army dissociated itself from this view.

In a show of solidarity, the heads of the PNGCC member churches said it is the "prophetic" role of the church to speak out against injustices and corruption as this was the cause of "pain and suffering to our people." The Assemblies of God Church, a member of the Evangelical Alliance of Churches, also supported Bishop Barnes but called for the setting up of a government of national unity.

The statement by the heads of PNGCC member churches pointed out that:

The statement said that due to these reasons the churches could not remain silent.

Source: The National - 9 April 99

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Give Access to Election Observers, say Rebels

RABAUL: Bougainville rebels have urged the PNG Government to give access to overseas and local observers during the Bougainville Reconciliation Government election later this month.

Spokesman Andrew Miriki said from Buin yesterday that it was disturbing to learn that Foreign Affairs and Trade Department officers had so far reacted negatively to people seeking assistance about travelling to Bougainville to observe the election. "We were informed by services from outside PNG that Government officers were not helpful in terms of allowing observers to travel to Bougainville," he said. "We are welcoming everyone including the government, NGO's the general public, and friends in overseas to come and observe the election. We want the government to do the same," Mr Miriki said. The Electoral Commission office in Buka said yesterday said that 199 candidates have formally nominated to contest the 69 constituencies. Rebel leader Joseph Kabui was elected unopposed in his Eivo 3 constituency on Tuesday together with 13 candidates in the Arawa district. In the Siwai district, another rebel strongman Jonathan Ngati was also elected unopposed in the Motuna constituency while Andrew Miriki is being challenged by one other candidate in the Wisai constituency in Buin district. Former premier Gerard Sinato faces a strong challenge from three candidates in his Kanua district while his deputy Thomas Anis is competing against seven others for the Haku 2 seat.

Source: The National - 9 April 99

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Ona Heads Makumei Council

RABAUL: Rebel leader Francis Ona has been appointed as president of the Makumei Council of chiefs.

Spokesman Andrew Miriki said Mr Ona was appointed last week by chiefs from various parts of Bougainville. Mr Ona declared himself president of the Republic of Makumei last year. Mr Miriki did not elaborate on why Mr Ona was appointed as president of a certain chiefs after he had declared himself the chief executive of the self-styled Republic of Makunei. "All I know is that he has been appointed as president of Makumei council of chiefs," he said. Mr Miriki said the Makumei council of chiefs would be recognised like any other local organisation on Bougainville. He said from information reaching other parts of Bougainville from Mr Ona's Pakia village camp, the rebel leader was supporting the current peace process including the BRG election. "Mr Ona is supporting the peace process and at the sometime he is believed to be watching how we are going towards reaching a lasting political settlement with the Government," Mr Miriki said. He said that Sinato/Kabui faction was also hoping to have Mr Ona to be part the BRG, adding that the rebel leader had the right to appoint five representatives to the BRG congress in line with the new constitution. "We feel that Mr Ona will make a positive move following the election of the BRG. It will be encouraging if he decides to be part of the BRG," Mr Miriki said.

Source: by PHILIP KEPSON - The National - 9 April 99

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Rebels Violating Bougainville Ceasefire

BUKA: The withdrawal of the security forces from Bougainville is subject to the retoration of civil authority on the island, the forces' military contingent commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Tarua Falaniki, said here yesterday.

Lt-Col Falaniki said that the phased withdrawal depended very much on the premise that normalcy and civil authority were restored, which were also stated in clause 4 of the Lincoln Agreement. "Civil authority in this context is the full restoration of services to include schools, health services, civil policing, courts and a properly constituted community government in place. This does not seem to be the case in central and south Bougainville," he said in a statement. Lt-Col Falaniki was responding to a call on Monday by Bougainville rebel leader Sam Kauona on the withdrawal of the security forces from Bougainville. He described Mr Kauona's comments as "very misleading and deceptive." He said that ceasefire violations were already evident in central and south Bougainville. "A resistant member was shot and wounded in Sikoreva while a tradestore next to the Buin high school was robbed by armed rebels who fired shots to escape. A Peace Monitoring Group helicopter was shot at in central Bougainville and armed men also fired upon PMG residence in Arawa early this week,"
Lt-Col Falaniki said. He said that the rebel leadership had yet to provide a report to the ceasefire monitoring committee on these incidents, which have serious implications on the peace process. Lt-Col Falaniki expressed his concern that the good spirit of the Lincoln Agreement, which set wheels for the peace process in motion, was at the threshold of being derailed.

Meanwhile, Arawa district manager Peter Siunai has reported an increase in criminal activities in the town. Mr Siunai said yesterday that youths broke into the post office and the Arawa hospital last week and destroyed thousands of kina worth of drugs and equipment. He said that late Wednesday another lot of youths fired gunshots into the Peace Monitoring Group headquarters while others attempted to torch a classroom at the Arawa High School but were frightened off by students returning from night classes.

Source: The National - 9 April 99

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PNG to Pay K25m to Fend Off Sandline

THE GOVERNMENT's move to challenge the Sandline international arbitration interim award in the High Court of Queensland has cost the State an extra K25 million.

And the total liability owed to be paid by the Government of Papua New Guinea on Sandline saga alone is in the vicinity of K100 million. However, it could not be independently confirmed whether Cabinet had approved the release of the K25 million and whether the stipulated amount had been released by the Treasury and Planning Department. However, a Cabinet submission to Prime Minister Bill Skate and the National Executive Council by the Attorney General Michael Gene in December 30 last year showed that an amount of K5 million was to have been released immediately by the Department of Treasury and Planning to the Attorney General Legal Fees and Trust Account, as the government's commitment to protect people's assets and interest within and abroad. And another K20 million was to be approved by Cabinet to be held as security for costs to avoid Sandline International Inc seeking enforcement of the interim award.

The copy of the submission which was obtained by the Post-Courier yesterday showed that from the K5 million an amount of K70,000 was remitted immediately for costs as proposed by Sandline. This was suggested as security for costs which had to be funded from the allocation to avoid Sandline enforcing the interim award. Part of Mr Gene's submission on the potential liability to the State and need for the Government to make sufficient funding available in order to protect the State's assets and interests at all stages of the litigation process reads: "This matter therefore exposes the State to a potential liability to the value of more than K80 million plus interest at 8 per cent. It is indeed a matter of grave concern to note that by the time the High Court of Australia and possibly the Privy Council of England finally resolve this appeal, the potential liability could easily reach K100 million through costs and interest. It therefore requires a substantial commitment on behalf of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea in terms of adequate funding to continue to maintain and protect the assets and interests of the State at all stages of litigation." The submission showed that the government engaged the services of four lawyers Queens Counsel (QCs) to represent PNG in overseas courts and they were Roger Gyles and David Hammersschlag as agents in Australia, and legal advice were sought from Professor O'Regan QC and Professor Shearer QC of the University of Sydney, and solicitor Richard Marsh of Taylor Joynson Garret of London was engaged in London to oppose the leave application by Sandline lawyers.

The submission did not show how much was paid to engage each of the QCs to render their professional advice to the PNG Government on the interim award and to represent PNG in foreign soil, a case which PNG lost to Sandline last week. The High Court in Queensland upheld the international tribunal's decision for PNG to pay the Sandline the balance of the aborted contract. The international tribunal which consisted of three former retired judges, Sir Edward Somers QC, Sir Michael Kerr, QC and Sir Darryl Dawson, QC who in their hearing last year in Queensland, unanimously ruled that PNG should pay Sandline the balance of the failed contract. Mr Gene could not be contacted yesterday on what steps the State is taking to meet the liability.

Source: Postcourier - 8 April 99

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Concern over Resistance Plan to Boycott BRG Poll

RABAUL: Rebels yesterday raised concern about the resistance force plan to boycott the Bougainville Reconciliation Government (BRG) election.

Spokesman Andrew Miriki said from Buin through satellite phone that the rebels were not happy with the resistance force leaders' negative attitude towards the BRG election. "It is sad to see the resistance force leaders adopting a negative attitude while we are putting in every effort we can to bring what the Bougainvilleans want to them," Mr Miriki said. Resistance force supreme commander Hillary Masiria and his sectional commanders, including Jacob Naisy, Hillary Loni and Donald Hamao on Tuesday, said that they would not take part in the BRG election because the other factions, including the rebels, had not sorted out issues that were important to have a fair election. The resistance force members cited the issue of disarmament and the reconciliation among Bougainville leaders as two important concerns that were needed to be sorted out before going into the BRG election. They stated that any election that took place on Bougainville had to be in line with the PNG Constitution.

Mr Miriki however, said that the election and formation of the BRG was in line with the Lincoln Agreement and it would go ahead as planned despite the resistance forces' opposition. "The resistance forces must realise that the peace process was a result of the Bougainvilleans prayers after nine years of suffering. The BRG election is also the wish of the people that is about to eventuate... We all have an obligation to respect the views of the people of Bougainville," he said. In regard to disarmament, Mr Miriki said it was senseless to talk about disarming the Bougainvilleans without a proper government that has representatives from the respective factions in place. He said the BRG would be the most appropriate authority that would have the power to discuss the issue of disarming the people on the crisis-torn island. "Without a proper government that could exercise legitimate authority, it would be a waste of time talking about disarmament," said Mr Miriki. He said however, that it (the disarmament) would be one of main items on the agenda following the formation of the BRG.

Source: The National - 8 April 99

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Kabui Joins Race

RABAUL: Rebel political chief Joseph Kabui has nominated to contest the Bougainville Reconciliation Government (BRG) election later this month.

Rebel spokesman Andrew Miriki said when confirming Mr Kabui's nomination that well over 700 people including women were believed to have been nominated for the various constituencies on Bougainville. Mr Miriki said Mr Kabui was nominated last week Thursday to contest in Evo Ioro, a constituency in Kieta, Central Bougainville. He said other notable rebel figures that also nominated include the former Bougainville Interim Government secretary Jonathan Ngati for Telep constituency in Nagovis sub-district, South Bougainville, James Tanis (Motuana, Siwai) and himself (Mr Miriki) for Wisas constituency in Buin, South Bougainville. Mr Miriki said details on the nominations were not available when they closed on Tuesday, as a result of a communication problem. He said however, that in his own district of Buin 20 people were nominated to contest in the seven constituencies. The constituencies include Wisai, Konnou, Rasakei, Lennoke and Makis. Mr Miriki said in the meantime the Bougainville provincial electoral officer, Mathias Pehei, who had been given the responsibilities by the Bougainville 'constituency assembly, was sorting out the nomination and other related issues before the polling starts on April 24. He said the district administrators and Bougainville based public servants would be involved in the running of the election. Asked of about security arrangements of the civilians during the elections, Mr Miriki said a joint rebel, civilian and resistance force would ensure that election rules were observed during campaign and the polling periods. "So far so good with no problems. The people are looking forward to a peaceful election," he said.

Source: The National - 8 April 99

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Condemn Sandline, PNG tells ACP-EU

PORT MORESBY: Rabaul MP Sir John Kaputin has called on the international community to act collectively against the increasing engagement of mercenaries in developing countries.

Sir John said that the 86 countries represented in the Joint Assembly of the 71-member African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of states and the 15-country European Union (EU) should take a strong stand and support efforts by Papua New Guinea to protect funds meant for development against claims by Sandline International. Addressing the 28th session of the ACP-EU Joint Assembly in Strasbourg, France, Sir John said that its members had repeatedly condemned the employment of foreign mercenaries. But the reality was that the engagement of international mercenaries by developing countries seemed to be on the increase, he said. "Moreover, the firms which offer their services to kill and destroy appear to have strong links in developed countries, including the European Union," Mr Kaputin said. "Sandline International, for example, which was expelled from Papua New Guinea, has at its head a former British Colonel who - rather ironically - served with United Nations peace keepers in Bosnia." Sir John briefed the Joint Assembly on recent developments in the Bougainville peace process and thanked ACP and EU states for their continuing support. "The people and government of Papua New Guinea have decisively rejected the presence and activities of mercenary firms like Sandline," he said.

"With their services no longer wanted and certainly not required in Papua New Guinea, Sandline is now aggressively pursuing its threat to seize Papua New Guinea's assets and monies around the world in payment of the debts that it claims it is owed by the state. In doing so, the company has tried to seize both embassy funds and STABEX transfers intended to assist rural development in Papua New Guinea, including economic rehabilitation in Bougainville. The European Commission has now decided to join Papua New Guinea's legal fight to protect what rightfully belongs to our people. It is, therefore, a matter of very great regret that the Belgian government has refused to become involved. In light of our particular experience with Sandline International and the general principles raised by the very existence and deadly intentions of such firms, Papua New Guinea, therefore, appeals to the governments of ACP and EU states to condemn international mercenaries, the aggressive methods they use in pressing for payment, and, above, all the murderous activities and destructive services they provide on the ground. Papua New Guinea looks to the international community for assistance in protecting our diplomatic missions, properties and funds in Europe and other parts of the world."

Source: The National - 7 April 99

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Kauona: Troops must Leave

THE commander of Bougainville Revolutionary Army Sam Kauona has called on the Government to come up with a plan to completely withdraw the Defence Force from the islands of Bougainville.

He said the withdrawal of the force from Bougainville was in line with the Lincoln Agreement which calls for a gradual withdrawal of troops on the island while the civil authority was being restored. However, to date that has not been done. Mr Kauona said in a statement on the weekend that the disposal of arms by Bougainville forces and the withdrawal of the PNGDF and police riot squad from Bougainville were core issues specified in the agreement in order to fast-track the peace process. "The BRA leadership is fully committed to peace and we will make it our duty to protect that peace. We want (the Government) to fully and completely de-militarise Bougainville. And unless the Government plays its part according to all the agreements that we have signed, then peace will never be fully realised" he said.

Source: Postcourier - 7 April 99

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Buka Candidates Rush to Nominate FORTY people from the Buka area have nominated to stand for the Bougainville elections at the close of nominations yesterday.

This is in spite of recent claims by the Leitana Council of Elders that Buka would not support the election of a Bougainville Reconciliation Government and further expressing its desire to see Buka be made a separate province of PNG. Spokesman for the Buka election committee, Peter Sohia, told the Post-Courier Kokopo office that at the close of nominations yesterday, 85 people had officially nominated to contest the elections, which starts on April 24 and ends on April 30. Half of this number came from Buka alone, Mr Sohia said. The exact number of candidates who had nominated to stand for elections by 4.06pm yesterday is expected to be well over 100, as figures for Nissan Island, Bana, Siwai and Buin were unavailable due to communication difficulties.

BRA leader Joseph Kabui will be declared unopposed winner for the Ioro-Evo constituency in Arawa, Central Bougainville, as he was the only candidate who nominated. It is the same story for 11 other constituencies in the Arawa area where the only 11 candidates who nominated respectively will be later declared unopposed winners. Another BRA/BIG leader, Andrew Miriki also nominated for his constituency in the Wisai area, in the inland Telei area. Over to the North, former premier of the Bougainville Transitional Government Gerard Sinato nominated yesterday morning to contest the Kunua constituency which is being contested by three other candidate. Some prominent Bougainvillean leaders have also nominated to stand for election. They include prominent pilot Isaiah Moroko who is contesting Haku One constituency with eight others, former administrator George Lessi and two others will contest the Tsitalato constituency which covers Buka town to Lonohan. Former BTG works engineer Thomas Tohiana is among seven candidates running for the Halia constituency. Former deputy premier of BTG Thomas Anis is contesting the Haku two constituency.

According to figures released by the election committee yesterday afternoon, the Atolls have a total of 14 candidates (Mortlock 4), (Nuguria 3), (Tasman 3), (Caterets 4), Haku two (7), Harku three (5). The Hagogohe constituency, home of pro-Momis man James Togel, who claimed nobody would contest the elections, have two nominations, although this is believed to have increased before close of nominations yesterday.

Source: Postcourier - 7 April 99

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Sohia: NZ Talks Bid Welcome

THE people of Bougainville have welcomed moves by New Zealand to help another Bougainville leaders' meeting to iron out differences before going to the polls on April 24.

Moves are now afoot to organise the leaders for the meeting which will comprise the four national MPs from the province, the Core Group made up of members of the BIG/BRA and former BTG and the Leitana Council of elders, a pro-Momis group. The New Zealand venue has not been decided. Spokesman for the Bougainville elections committee which is organising the election of a Bougainville Reconciliation Government, Peter Sohia, said yesterday the people had expressed gratitude that the New Zealand government was once again trying to sort out a situation in the province. Mr Sohia said from Buka yesterday that the people were keen to go straight into the election and were concerned that Bougainville leaders were not united. The New Zealand Government announced last week that it would host another meeting of leaders to sort out current political differences which could mar the elections. Mr Sohia said the people were fully committed towards the election of the BRG and had reconciled, but they were concerned that their leaders were yet to reconcile.

Bougainville Affairs Minister Sam Akoitai said at the weekend that the meeting would take place on April 13. He travelled to Buka at the weekend to meet with Resistance leader Hillary Masiria, following his movement's call for deferring of the elections to allow leaders to sort themselves out. The call for the deferral was also to address disarmament before the election kicked off. Official sources on Buka said yesterday the disarmament issue had never been properly addressed by those in authority when it should have been the first issue dealt with. Despite the call, Mr Akoitai, a former resistance commander, told his successor that the election would continue because of the support and enthusiasm shown by the people on the ground.

Source: Postcourier - 7 April 99

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MPs tell Bishop: Shut Up

TWO senior government ministers have condemned the Catholic Church's call for a change of government.

They also called on Archbishop of Port Moresby Brian Barnes to stay out of politics. The Post-Courier also received reactions from many other readers both here and abroad supporting the statement by Archbishop Brian Barnes. E-mail messages were received from Papua New Guinean students, professionals and general readers expressing concern at the direction the country is heading and calling for a change of government. One reader, however, said that while he agreed there were many problems facing the country that needed government attention, he did not support the call for a change of government. Another reader disagreed with Archbishop Barnes, saying the churches were the ones behind the campaign in the last general elections to topple the Chan/Haiveta government. Ministers Jacob Wama (Finance and Internal Revenue Affairs) and Simon Kaumi (Justice), said in separate statements that the archbishop had ignored the primary role of the church when he made the call for a change of government last Thursday. They urged him to prove his allegations.

Source: Postcourier - 6 April 1999

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MPs Claim Bishop was Misled by Opposition

FROM PAGE 1 "His Most Reverend has totally misled the Catholic Church and the people of Papua New Guinea to ignore the primary role of the church, which is to spread the gospel and not be politicians" Mr Wama said.

He said Archbishop Barnes' outburst was out of biblical context which teaches all Christian churches to pray for those in authority (government) whether it be good or bad. "The Bible does not teach any Christian (churches) to condemn any government or person in authority" Mr Wama said. "His Most Reverend, whom I know quite well, has been misled to appreciate what this government is doing, despite what a certain minority of people and politicians think and say" the practising pastor said. "He has totally failed to appreciate this government's efforts to address problems that have been accumulated over the past 22 years by all successive governments." Mr Wama said the Skate government was formed 22 months ago as a result of people's prayers and cries to weed out corruption, greed and self-centredness in high places and people like the archbishop of the Catholic Church should not discredit the efforts of the government. He said the archbishop should apologise to thousands of Christians throughout the country who had prayed for the installation of the Government.

Mr Kaumi called on Archbishop Barnes to declare his political interests in what he claimed was a "series of biased statements".

Archbishop Barnes has urged the people to speak out against bad political leadership in the nation. "The church cannot be silenced when the people are suffering. Maybe the worst is yet to come," Archbishop Barnes said. "The church has every right to speak on national issues. I am aware of criticisms when I comment but I speak for a fairly large group of people." Archbishop Barnes has been critical of the performance of the Skate Government since it took office and listed poor economic management leading to high inflation and sufferings by people, lack of money and break-down in the delivery of goods and services as factors which demanded new leadership.

Mr Kaumi alleged that there had been collusion between Archbishop Barnes and the Opposition and described it as a bad precedent. Mr Kaumi said it would not surprise him if Archbishop Barnes had been used by the Opposition in its attempts to discredit the Government. "What our good archbishop is saying sounds very familiar to the allegations and half-truths the Opposition have been preaching," he said.

Three National Capital District commissioners have also urged the church not to get involved in politics. In a joint statement, commissioners Jerry Martin, Pastor Koiaba and Cathy Tani said they were saddened by the archbishop's comments. They said they represented a wide section of the community in Port Moresby and were embarrassed because the church's name was being dragged into politics. "As far as our church teachings are concerned, the churches are there to pray, guide and advise the government," they said.

Source: Postcourier - 6 April 99

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40 Nominated for BRG Election

RABAUL: A total of 40 people have filed their nomination for various constituent seats in Buka since the writs for the Bougainville Reconciliation Government were issued by the Bougainville Constituent Assembly co-chairmen Gerard Sinato and Joseph Kabui two weeks ago.

According to rebel spokesman Andrew Miriki, more people are expected to be nominated in Central and South Bougainville by the close of the nomination period today. But this cannot be ascertained as yet due to communication problems with these two electorates. A seven-day campaign period begins tomorrow leading to the start of the election. "The election will certainly not take a long time. So the new Congress is xpected to be in place in the next two weeks," Mr Miriki said. He reported also that the Leitana Council of Chiefs from Buka, who are opposed to the Kabui/Sinato-led faction, have changed their mind and will take part in the polls. "It is indeed encouraging to know that the Laitana Council of Chiefs have changed their position to support and take part in the BRG election," Mr Miriki said. The council has even invited Mr Kabui to a reconciliation meeting towards promoting a peaceful election. "Mr Kabui left home (Arawa) today for Buka to reconcile with chiefs. The full account of their meeting will be made known later," Mr Miriki said. Since the Bougainville provincial government was suspended last December, the council has been supporting Bougainville MP John Momis and the Opposition by going against any moves proposed by the Sinato/Kabui led faction.

Source: by PHILIP KEPSON - The National - 6 April 1999

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Kauona Warns Govt to Honour Peace Pact

PORT MORESBY: Bougainville rebel Sam Kauona has warned the Government to honour the terms of the Lincoln Agreement.

Citing Clause 4 of the agreement regarding "phased withdrawal of the PNG Defence Force from Bougainville subject to restoration of civil authority," Mr Kauona said in a statement: "The disposal of arms by Bougainville forces and the withdrawal of the PNGDF and Police Riot Squad from Bougainville is core to the peace process." He said: "The (rebel) leadership is fully committed to peace and we will make it our duty to protect that peace. We want to completely demilitarise Bougainville. Unless the Government plays its part according to all the agreements that we have signed, peace will never be fully realised," Mr Kauona warned. He added, "Whilst the rebels submitted a comprehensive "Disposal of Arms" submission to the Peace Process Consultative Committee at its meeting on March 10, 1999, the PNG team went unprepared. They had no plan whatsoever for a withdrawal of troops from Bougainville," Mr Kauona said.

He said civil authority was being restored on Bougainville and by the time BRG was elected and installed next month, it would be responsible for its own policing, judiciary, education, health, etc. "Whilst the PNG Goverment is now in debt to the tune of US$40 million to the Sandline mecernaries, how will it continue to finance its forces on Bougainville? The PNGDF troops on Bougainville are now just "squatter settlements," said the rebel commander. Urging the Government not to back off from the peace process, he said: "Play your part as we have done with trust and respect since the Burnham 1 and 2 and the Lincoln agreements. "The victory for all of us has to be the winning of peace and not the defeat or victory over one another," he said. "You now have the time to withdraw from Bougainville with dignity and respect," said Mr Kauona.

Source: The National - 6 April 1999

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PNG Accuses Catholic Archbishop of Political Bias

The Papua New Guinea Government has accused the Catholic Archbishop of Port Moresby of political bias and attempting to incite an up-rising. Richard Dinnen reports the Archbishop used his Easter message to call for a change of Government.

CART: In his Easter message, Archbishop Brian Barnes called for a change of government, saying the current P-N-G Government is corrupt and keeping itself in power at the expense of the people it should be serving. In a strong but carefully worded reply, Justice Minister Simon Kaumi has accused Archbishop Barnes of colluding with the Opposition, saying Opposition M-Ps may be using the Archbishop to further their own political aspirations. The Justice Minister said the Archbishop's message was an apparent invitation for civil unrest, and an attempt to incite an uprising. Archbishop Barnes says his view of the Government is widely held, and denies he's playing politics.

Source: Radio Australia - 6 April 99

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BRA Commander Issues Strong Statement Urging PNG to Honour the Lincoln Agreement

The BRA Commander Gen. Sam Kauona issued a strong statement tonight, urging the Papua New Guinea Government to honour the terms of the Lincoln Agreement; Clause 4 - Withdrawal of Defence force from Bougainville; "the parties agree to a phased withdrawal of the PNG Defence Force from Bougainville subject to restoration of civil authority".

"The disposal of arms by Bougainville forces and the withdrawal of the PNGDF and Police Riot Squad from Bougainville is core to the Bougainville/PNG peace process. The BRA leadership is fully committed to peace and we will make it our duty to protect that peace. We want to fully and completely demilitarised Bougainville. Unless the PNG Government plays its part according to all the agreements that we have signed, then peace will never be fully realised", said Kauona. "Whilst the BRA submitted a comprehensive and detailed "Disposal of Arms" submission to the Peace process Consultative Committee, at its meeting on the 10th of March 1999; the PNG team on the other hand were totally unprepared. They had nothing whatsoever by way of a detailed plan of a "phased withdrawal" of its troops from Bougainville", said a very disappointed Kauona from Bougainville.

"Civil authority has gradually been restored on Bougainville. By the time the Bougainville Reconciliation Government is elected and installed in May of this year it will be responsible for its own, policing, judiciary, education, health, etc., ".

"Whilst the PNG Government is now in debt to the tune of $40 million to the Sandline mercenaries, how will it continue to finance its forces on Bougainville? The PNGDF troops on Bougainville are now just "squatter settlements" and are becoming a laughing matter to Bougainvilleans".

"Do not back off now PNG from the peace process. Play your part as we have done with trust and respect since Burnham 1 and 2 and and the Lincoln Agreement. The victory for all of us has been the winning of peace and not the defeat or victory over one another other". "You now have the time to withdraw and exit from Bougainville holding your heads high with dignity and respect", concluded Gen. Sam Kauona from Bougainville.

Source: Media Release, Arawa - Bougainville, Sunday 4th April 1999.

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PNG Government Told that Sandline Contract Legally Binding

Papua New Guinea's former deputy Prime Minister, Chris Haiveta, says a contract between PNG and Sandline mercenaries is legally binding, and the government should pay what it owes on the contract.

As deputy Prime Minister in 1997, Mr Haiveta signed on behalf of PNG the contract to hire Sandline mercenaries to fight the Bougainville war. He says legal advice obtained in 1997 is that the Sandline contract is legal and binding. The claim comes as the PNG government lost it's latest legal bid to avoid paying 40-million dollars still owing to the company. Mr Haiveta, who is now deputy Opposition leader, says the government is prolonging the dispute in a bid to inflict political damage on him and former Prime Minister, Sir Julius Chan.

Source: Radio Australia - 1 April 99

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Fiji wants International Help to Maintain Peace on Bougainville

Meanwhile, Fiji has also called on the international community to provide financial and logistic support to ensure that lasting peace and security can be achieved on the Papua New Guinea Island of Bougainville.

Fiji's Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Sakiusa Rabuka, made the call at a special meeting of the U-N's Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations in New York. Mr Rabuka said Fiji was committed to playing its role under the regional agreement on peace and security on Bougainville. He also commended the U-N Security Council for supporting an agreement to establish a group to monitor the implementation of the Lincoln Agreement.

Source: Radio Australia - 1 April 99

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Report to Parliament Calls for Proactive Approach on Bougainville

A report to the Australian Parliament has called for a more proactive approach to securing peace on Bougainville.

The report of the Parliamentary delegation to Bougainville says Australia should use the consultative and steering committees on the island and the South Pacific forum. It says these bodies should be used to maintain the momentum of the peace process. One delegation member, Labor Party M-P, Roger Price, says Canberra's eye is wandering from Bougainville. Mr Price says good progress has been made, but there are worrying developments that could stall the process.

Source: Radio Australia - 1 April 99

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Contact Details:

BFM - Bougainville Freedom Movement (Coordination in Australia):
VIKKI JOHN - e-mail: vikki@law.uts.edu.au
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
tuluan@ar.com.au Phone/Fax +61-2-9804-7632 , Mobile +61-(0)414-226-428

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

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