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Bougainville Updates- December 1999

This page carries the latest Bougainville news updates as received. You can find previous updates in the archive.

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.


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Index: Latest Updates


Court to Decide Bougainville Govt

A Supreme Court interpretation on the structure and composition of the Bougainville Provincial Government should see a new and legitimate government on the island by next week.

Bougainville Governor John Momis said a Supreme Court reference to that effect had been filed and they were awaiting the high court's opinion. Bougainville Affairs Minister Sir Michael Somare told reporters at the same press conference that a special Cab-inet meeting would be held today purely to discuss issues on Boug-ainville. Sir Michael said while negotiations were progressing well, last week's signing of the Hutjena Record specifically called for the issues of highest autonomy and referendum which will be referred to Cabinet for consideration. Sir Michael said at the moment there was no entity on the island, because the Bougainville Peoples Congress (BPC), Leitana Council of Elders (LCE) and others do not come under the jurisdiction of the Organic Law on Prov-incial and Local Level Governments. "To get Governor Momis to operate as a governor, we need a legal entity of some sort and for the legal entity, we've asked the court to give us the directives, how we should operate, so that we know we are doing everything according to the law" he said.

Sir Michael said Attorney General Mic-hael Gene had advised them that there should be no problems with getting the court's directives. He said the PEC currently does not include the BPC, the LCE and the rest so if the court grants legal clearance, Mr Momis should be able to appoint his PEC consisting of these groups and other interested groups that he wishes to include. Sir Michael said teams representing both the Government and those on Bougainville were in place and negotiations were in place, but under the command of Mr Momis as Governor of Bougainville. He stressed that the questions of higher autonomy and referendum will be pending cabinet consideration and Parliament approval before implementation. Sir Michael said there was consensus all around for the parties to agree, even one party could not have it all their way because each party had to show give and take.

Source: Postcourier - 23 Dec 99

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Bougainville Leaders Agree to Work with New Governor for Peace

SourThe road to a lasting peace in Bougainville has received a boost, after the Bougainville Peoples' Congress changed its mind about working with Governor John Momis.

Congress President, Joseph Kabui, and the newly-appointed Governor have agreed to jointly negotiate Bougainville's political future with the Papua New Guinea government. A statement from Buka said Father Momis agreed to join the BPC, the Leitana Council of Elders, the Bougainville Revolutionary Army and other forces on Bougainville's negotiating position. The signing was witnessed by the full Congress and the multi-national Peace Monitoring Group, on Buka Island. PNG's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Bougainville Affairs, Sir Michael Somare, is heading a 33-member Government delegation to Buka for the Bougainville talks. Sir Michael's office said the talks will focus on the autonomy package for Bougainville.

Source: Radio Australia - World News, 14 Dec 99 (3.49pm)

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Australia to Have a New Role in Leading Future Peacekeeping Operations

Australia's military chief says Australia will have a new role leading future peacekeeping operations in the Asia Pacific.

Admiral Chris Barrie says the professional performance in East Timor peacekeeping and Bougainville peace monitoring shows why Australia will be a force-of-choice for the United Nations. The Chief of the Defence Force says Australia has traditionally planned to operate overseas in a coalition led by the United States. Admiral Barrie says it's a departure for Australia to lead a coalition as it is in East Timor. He says Australia might be expected to lead similar forces in the Asia Pacific in the future. Admiral Barrie says the Defence White Paper to be issued next year will have to look at how Australia positions itself in the region. There's a gap in our doctrinal thinking. Because on one hand our doctrine looked at defence of Australia requirements. On the other hand it looked at interoperability, participation in US-led coalitions and other things. And I think the gap we need to address quite quickly is what does it mean to be the leader of a small coalition operation such as we have in E.Timor. What sort of responsibilities does that give us if that is to become an endorsed role for the ADF.

Source: Radio Australia - 14 Dec 99 (11.13am)

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Bougainville People's Congress Rejects PNG Reforms Under Momis

The Bougainville People's Congress says it WON'T support the implementation of provincial reforms on Bougainville under the leadership of Governor John Momis.

A meeting of the Congress on Buka island has unanimously voted against the reforms that are being implemented by eighteen other provinces in Papua New Guinea. The BPC has instead invited the PNG government to negotiate a different interim government for Bougainville, until a permanent agreement is reached. The demand comes ahead of the first round of political negotiations with the national government tomorrow. PNG's Bougainville Affairs minister Sir Michael Somare will lead the government delegation.

Source: Radio Australia - World News, 13 Dec 99 (2.13pm)

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BPC Boycotting Momis' Installation as Governor

PORT MORESBY: Bougainville Regional MP and Governor John Momis is not welcomed on Bougainville with the provincial government reforms.

And to show its opposition, the Bougainville Peoples' Congress (BPC) will boycott the installation ceremony of Mr Momis as Governor for the province when he arrives today in Buka, North Solomons. Member for Kongara in the BPC David Sisito said from Buka yesterday that the congress has genuine and important reasons for boycotting the ceremony. "Firstly, the whole issue surrounding the introduction of the provincial government reforms to Bougainville makes a mockery of the peace process, which is at its most critical stage of commencing political negotiations on autonomy and referendum" Mr Sisito said. "We, including Mr Momis, have rejected the provincial government reforms. "Our position on this level of government still stands until a totally new and acceptable government arrangement for Bougainville is agreed to between the Government of Papua New Guinea and the people of Bougainville" he said in a statement. "The people of Bougainville and the National Government are still searching for this new deal for a new Bougainville done through consultations, dialogue and negotiations" the outspoken Mr Sisito said.

Mr Sisito also demanded that Mr Momis and the rebel commander Francis Ona tell the people of Bougainville and PNG the truth on the status of the "Ona-Momis Resolution for lasting peace on Bougainville" signed in Guava, Central Bougainville. The resolution was believed to have been signed on June 15, 1997, following Mr Momis' capture by a faction of the Bougainville rebels. In that resolution, Mr Sisito said, both Mr Momis and Mr Ona fully acknowledged their promises for independence for Bougainville. The two leaders also acknowledged to this effect their "equal responsibility and obligation to fulfil the promise of independence which is the true will of the people", Mr Sisito added. Another member of the BPC concurred with Mr Sisito, saying the path to lasting peace for Bougainville and PNG is guided by agreements. "The BPC is committed to these agreements and calls on the Government to also honour them" he said.

Source: The National - 13 Dec 99

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BRA Threatens to Pull out from Bougainville/PNG Peace Process

The Bougainville Peace Process is now under threat of collapsing following the PNG Supreme Court's ruling on the suspension of the Bougainville Provincial Government; and the swearing-in of Mr. John Momis as the new Governor of Bougainville, under the PNG new Reforms on Provincial Government and Local Level Government System of Papua New Guinea.

In a protest March this morning in Arawa led by the new BRA General and Chief of Defence Ishmael Toroama, BRA Commanders and supported by its rank and file; a Petition was handed to the President of the Bougainville Congress, Mr. Joseph Kabui to forward onto the Morauta Government. Calling on the Papua New Guinea Government to commence negotiations with the Bougainvillean parties as soon as possible on the issue of a political settlement encompassing self-government and a referendum on independence. The petition also forbids any Members of the Bougainville Peoples Congress, BRA and Resistance Forces to participate in any talks that will facilitate the establishment of Provincial Government under the new reforms, prior to any negotiations. The protest march also called on the Government of Papua New Guinea to re-instate the suspension by an Act of Parliament until negotiations are finalised; and that only the Bougainville Peoples Congress, and no other body, can represent the people of Bougainville between now and the end of the negotiations Mr. President, if these views are not respected and taken heed of, BRA will pull out of the processoe concluded General Ishmael Toroama this morning.
For any further information please contact-675 ! 9739778 ! Bougainville.

Source: Media Release BOUGAINVILLE: Friday 10th December 1999

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Indon Troops Fire on Protesters

At least 28 people have been injured after Indonesian troops shot at protesters in the eastern province of Irian Jaya.

Local human rights groups say the shooting occurred near the Three Kings church in the town of Timika. Several people have also been arrested. According to John Rumbiak, head of the Institute for Human Rights Studies and Advocacy, the troops fired on independence activists who had tried to stop their separatist flag from being taken down. Earlier, Indonesian authorities allowed the separatist flag to be raised in towns across the province to mark the 38th anniversary of the declaration of the Free Papua State.

Source: ABC Online News - 2 Dec 99 (3.21pm)

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Australia Says it has a Clear Exit Strategy for Peace Monitors

Australia says it has a clear exit strategy for peace monitors in Bougainville and is keen to withdraw from the two-year deployment.

But the Defence Department says there's been only mixed progress on Bougainville which means the 250 Australian monitors have to stay. A Defence Deputy Secretary, Hugh White, says that under the Peace Monitoring Group -- the PMG -- the ceasefire and truce have held, but progress to a long term solution has been uneven. The consistent view of the government on this has been that keen as we are to reduce our commitment to the PMG we're not so keen to do it that we're prepared to take significant risks with the possibility of Bougainville sliding back into the civil war that was such a humanitarian tragedy for ten years until we got there.

Source: Radio Australia - World News, 2 Dec 99 (4.16pm)

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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)