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Bougainville Updates

This page carries the Jan 2000 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.


BOOK: Building Peace in Bougainville - Details & Order Form

Index: January 2000


Unpaid Bills may Prevent PNG Peace Talks

The latest round of Bougainville peace talks has run into an unexpected hitch.

Local hoteliers on Buka Island, where the talks are scheduled to resume next month, could boycott the Papua New Guinea politicians who arrive to take part, due to $175,000 worth of unpaid bills. The Buka Hospitality Industry Association says that failure to settle the bills from earlier peace negotiations will leave its members with no other choice but to close the door on the peacemakers.

Source: BC Online News - 25 Jan 00 (1.11pm)

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No Money for Services and Pay on Bougainville Island

The president of the Bougainville People's Congress, Joseph Kabui, has warned that continuing delays in negotiating the island's political future will harden his people's desire for self determination.

The Supreme Court last year ruled the setting up of the Bougainville People's Congress as null and void. Further negotiations were due to begin this week - but they've been postponed until mid February. Mr Kabui says the ruling has left Bougainville in a vacuum. He says the biggest problem facing the island is a shortage of money to continue the overall peace process.

Source: Radio Australia - World News, 25 Jan 00 (9.11am)

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AUSTRALIA: New Papers Show Role in Papua New Guinea Conflict

CANBERRA, Jan 3 (IPS) - Australia's role in the already shaky peace process for the Bougainville conflict in Papua New Guinea is likely to come under further challenge from independence supporters, following new revelations found in previously secret Australian government documents.

These documents reveal that Canberra considered the use of military force to overcome landowner opposition to the development of the Bougainville copper mine - the source of restiveness that later became a full-blown rebellion that has yet to be fully settled today after 11 years. The previously secret 1969 Cabinet submissions were released to the public on on the first day of the year by the Australian Archives Office. They reveal that even prior to the construction of the Panguna copper mine in Bougainville island, the Australian Government knew of the mounting landowner opposition to the project and discussed the possible need to use military force to ensure it proceeded. Prior to its independence in 1975, Papua New Guinea was administered by Australia. Con Zinc Rio Tinto (CRA), an Australian mining company, was pushing to develop the massive copper deposit that became the Panguna mine. A 1969 intelligence committee report, appended to one of the Cabinet submissions, reveals that officials ridiculed mine opponents as ""collaborators with the Japanese" during World War II, dismissed as "suspect" the motives of a member of Papua New Guinea's Parliament leading concerned landowners and argued that he was "probably motivated by self interest".

In a submission to Cabinet in April 1969, the Minister for External Territories, C.E. Barnes infomed his Cabinet colleagues of opposition to the mine proposal before the project had even been established. Barnes said that "until CRA has entered into occupation of the land that it requires, difficulties with the native people, including in some areas opposition to the acquisition of land or pressure for secession, may be expected. "If the CRA project is allowed to falter the government's policy for the economic, social and political development ... will be placed in jeopardy," he warned. Worse still, Barnes said, the Australian Administration could also "be liable to pay substantial damages to CRA" if the project did not proceed. Barnes discounted the prospect of a secessionist movement emerging as "unlikely" but conceded that there was "a possibility of passive or active resistance to the occupation of land in conjunction with the CRA project." Barnes urged his Cabinet colleagues to consider the "deployment of elements of the Pacific Islands Regiment (PIR)". Barnes noted that Cabinet had already given its approval for "planning to be put in hand for the provision of military assistance as a last resort". The Cabinet was less enthusiastic than Barnes, referring his proposal to an Inter-Departmental committee.

In a separate submission in August 1969, Barnes supported a proposal from CRA that they be allowed to use up to 1,600 Asian workers for the construction of the project. "It is suggested that workers indentured from Asian countries are more amenable to control and discipline and would be less likely to cause serious social problems on Bougainville than large numbers of Australian or European construction workers," he wrote. The mine, which became many times larger than discussed in negotiations with landowners at the outset, obliterated extensive areas of villagers' gardens and poisoned the river with mine wastes. The environmental damage and social dislocation caused by the mine catalysed a civil war from 1988 to 1997 between independence-minded Bougainvilleans and the government of Papua New Guinea that was determined to maintain national unity at all costs.

The civil war cost more than 10,000 lives, many of the casualties resulting from a PNG Government blockade that prevented medical supplies from reaching the island. After the collapse of PNG government and attempts to employ mercenaries to wipe the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) and re-open the mine, a truce was negotiated. Since December 1997, 250 unarmed troops and civilians from Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and Vanuatu have monitored the truce and commenced civil reconstruction talks. In late November, the peace process received a setback when the PNG Supreme Court overturned a decision by the PNG Parliament to establish the Bougainville Reconciliation Government (BRG), which included former leaders of the secessionist BRA. The decision ordered the restoration of the provincial government that has been rejected by Bougainville community leaders. After the court ruling, the leader of the BRA, Francis Ona, withdrew from the disarmament process and warned the PNG Government that it was willing to take up arms again unless the people of Bougainville are given the option of voting at a referendum on whether they want independence. "These so-called reconciliation talks are being manipulated by the PNG and Australian Governments to protect their own economies," Ona told an Australian journalist. "Without proper independence, exploitation, destruction and social problems will return. Mining will return and that will not bring peace but only bring war."

Australian Defence Minister John Moore, addressing Australian troops in Bougainville just before Christmas, put pressure on the PNG government for a quick resolution of the protracted Bougainville crisis. He suggested that he wants to withdraw the Australian unarmed peace monitoring contingent by the end of 2000. "The boys in Bougainville, they're committed there until April next year. We hope, certainly I hope that we can get them out of there by the end of next year," he said.

Source: By Bob Burton - Inter Press Service World News - 3 Jan 2000

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PM Urged to Take Interest

FORMER Bougainville Affairs Minister Sam Akoitai has urged Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta to take a personal interest in Bougainville amid growing concerns that the peace process has gone stale.

The Central Bougainville MP said this to Sir Mekere at a meeting on Saturday to brief him on latest happenings on Bougainville. The meeting was necessary following reports that negotiations scheduled for January had been postponed to February and that Governor John Momis and the Bougainville provincial administration officers were working on a Supply Bill to keep services continuing on the island province. "The Prime Minister must take a personal interest on Bougainville and make it a priority to draw appropriate resources to assist both the Bougainville Affairs Minister, Sir Michael Somare and Governor Momis to handle the current governance fiasco as well as the final political settlement negotiations. "I wish to categorically deny any involvement or input into that proposed Supply Bill," said Mr Akoitai, in fear of a possible contempt of court. His fears stem from a recent Supreme Court ruling that Bougainville would now come under the Organic Law on Provincial and Local Level Government. Basically that implies that governance on Bougainville must be through a provincial executive council and provincial assembly of which there is no quorum.

Source: Postcourier - 24 Jan 2000

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Waigani Agrees to Defer Talks

THE National Government has accepted a request from Bougainville to defer the next round of political talks until February.

The deferral will enable Bougainville leaders to honor longstanding commitments to take part in important reconciliation ceremonies on the island. Minister for Bougainville Affairs Sir Michael Somare said: "The national Government has been working hard to prepare a proper response to the submission which Bougainville leaders presented to me in December and to do so, as we agreed, by the end of January. "In fact, I presented the Joint Bougainville Negotiating Position to Cabinet before Christmas so that ministers and relevant government agencies would have enough time to consider it carefully before we finalise our official response. "Cabinet formally received the submission, together with the Hutjena Accord committing us to respond to the issues raised by Bougainville leaders. "Work on these issues has been proceeding according to plan. "The Government is pleased with the way in which Bougainville leaders have met the challenge I made to them last year to come together and present us with an agreed set of proposals on Bougainville's political future."

Source: Postcourier - 24 Jan 2000

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Don't Slow the Pace, Warns B'ville Leader

DON'T delay political negotiations in Bougainville, the National Government has been warned. The warning was issued by Bougainville People's Congress vice-president James Tanis.

He spoke about the delay in setting up an interim government arrangement headed by Regional MP John Momis as governor and the postponement of negotiations to next month. "We have shown that we are genuine and had demonstrated our goodwill by suggesting an interim arrangement that provides a compromise between the Supreme Court ruling that imposes the reform system into Bougainville, and the wishes of the people to continue negotiating for high autonomy and referendum for independence," he said, saying these had been highlighted in the "Green House" agreement signed by assembly president Joseph Kabui and Governor Momis last month. "The inability of the Government to facilitate the interim arrangement has thrown the affairs of the province into confusion," he said.

The provincial budget had not been appropriated and the four MPs for the province could not form the quorum needed to pass a supply Bill. Public servants were not being paid and services were at a standstill, he claimed. Mr Tanis warned the public servants might go on strike. He said the peace process was being threatened, due to lack of money for reconciliation's, peace awareness work and the leaders' meetings. "When this happens, the hard liners are already pushing for UDI (unilateral declaration of independence)," he said. The mounting frustrations could leave the congress with no choice other than to call for speeded up talks for "highest autonomy" and a referendum on independence.

Source: Postcourier - 24 Jan 00

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Don't Delay Bougainville Talks

THE GOVERNMENT was yesterday warned not to delay political negotiations in Bougainville.

The warning was issued by the Bougainville Provisional Congress vice-president James Tanis following the delay in setting up an interim government arrangement headed by Mr John Momis as the Governor and the postponement of negotiations to next month. "We have shown that we are genuine and had demonstrated our goodwill by suggesting an interim arrangement that provides a compromise between the Supreme Court ruling that imposes the reform system into Bougainville and the wishes of the people to continue negotiating for highest autonomy and referendum for independence highlighted in the Green House M.O.U signed by the BPC president Joseph Kabui and Governor John Momis before Christmas last year." He said that the inability of the Government to facilitate the arrangement has thrown the affairs of the province into confusion. "The provincial budget is not been appropriated and the four Bougainville MPs cannot form the quorum to pass a Supply Bill. Public Servants are not being paid and services are on standstill. I warn the Government of a possible strike by public servants, if the present scenario continues."

Mr Tanis said that more importantly, the Bougainville peace process was being threatened, due to lack of funding for reconciliations, peace awareness, and the leaders meetings. "When this happen the hard liners are already pushing for UDI." He said that with the continuous frustrations starting from the failure of the Parliament to pass necessary legislations to facilitate establishment of the BRGA, and to the lifting of the suspension and the inability to response quickly to the Bougainville package, frustrate are mounting even at the leadership levels. "This will leave BPC, which is the only political body that exist in absence of a provincial assembly, with no choice but to call on the Government to fastback negotiations for highest autonomy and referendum on independence. "If negotiations are delayed, the BPC would even consider the hard-liners call for unilateral declaration of independence for Bougainville." Mr Tanis calls on the Government to come out of the various circles of the legal arguments and accept the reality that not every solution to the Bougainville conflicts is within the framework of the PNG Constitution but to come to the negotiating table. "Only then any discussion on the interim arrangement would be easy. However the quickest alternative is to legalise PBC."

While appealing for calm and patience from all Bougainvillean, Mr Tanis has also warned the Government of PNG that a time is soon coming when the people will no longer take heed to the leaders appeals and take the matter into their own hands. "They may stay away from the negotiating table and resort back to what they did in the past," he said. "Just remember that the leader Mr Francis Ona who started the revolution in 1988 is still out of the peace process and yet to be convinced that the process will end with a referendum on independence for Bougainville. Enough is enough," Mr Tanis warned.

Source: The National - 21 Jan 00

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Soeharto Forces 'Building Militias'

Military authorities and political enforcers associated with the former Soeharto regime appear to be building up East Timor-style militias in the contested province of West Papua, human rights activists warned yesterday.

The claim follows clashes in the north coast town of Serui on Wednesday when pro-Jakarta elements clashed with pro-independence supporters. An Australian-based West Papuan academic, Mr John Ondowame, has accused former Soeharto-regime activist Mr Yurris Raweyai of engineering the formation of pro-Jakarta militias in West Papua - as Irian Jaya has been renamed since a visit by President Abdurrahman Wahid over the New Year. Mr Yurris, an indigenous Papuan, is infamous in Indonesian politics for his prominent role in the ousting of Ms Megawati Sukarnoputri, now Indonesia's vice-president, as the head of the Indonesian Democracy party in 1996. "Yurris is forming militias," Mr Ondawame said. "It is very dangerous, the Yurris rallies are protected by TNI [the Indonesian armed forces] but at the independence rallies the people are shot."

In the provincial capital Jayapura, Mr Yurris has organised the formation of the "West Papuan Army" in coalition with the moderate pro-independence leader Theys Eluay. He is believed to have brought in many members of the Pemuda Pancasila movement - a youth group ostensibly formed to promote the state ideology Pancasila under the Soeharto government - which was often employed as to break up and intimidate opposition activity. Pemuda Pancasila members were also prominent in the militias in East Timor, which slaughtered hundreds of people and deported nearly half the population after the territory's pro-independence vote on August 30 last year. Mr Eluay's motives in associating himself with Mr Yurris are not clear, but some local activists suspect it is a tactical move to gain access to Mr Yurris' funds, which come from the Indonesian military and TNI-associated business interests. Mr John Rumbiak from the West Papua human rights organisation ELSHAM said: "He just wants the money from the military and their businesses. It is very complex but Theys is still supporting independence."

Since Mr Soeharto's resignation in May 1998, West Papua has seen a growing popular movement for independence, expressed in ceremonial raising of the nationalist flag and other protests in many of its widely-scattered towns. Mr Eluay himself is one of a number of independence activists charged with sedition for raising the rebel flag, and his trial is due to start on February 2. The trial of two others, Don Flassy and Samuel Yaru, began on Tuesday, with the charges carrying a maximum 15 years' jail. On Tuesday, about 100 people closed the airport at Sentani, just outside Jayapura, by sitting on the runway, in a protest demanding proper compensation for land seized for the airport 30 years ago, the Indonesian Observer newspaper reported.

Meanwhile the international community is starting to review the much criticised "act of free choice" in 1969, whereby 1,025 representatives selected by Indonesia voted for the former Dutch colony to become part of Indonesia. The Netherlands Parliament is conducting an inquiry into the 1969 consultation. Some of the surviving representatives argued that they voted under duress and that the results did not reflect popular sentiment. The vote has never been ratified by the United Nations.

Source: By ANDREW KILVERT in Darwin - Sydney Morning Herald World News - 21 January 00

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Bougainville Wants Govt's Counter Offer Package

THE SECOND round of the Bougainville political negotiations between the national government and Bougainville leaders is highly likely to take place on the second week of February, according to a source from the Bougainville administration office in Buka.

This is to allow the national government to sort things out at its end and to also satisfy the legal requirements relating to the establishment of a government for the province, the source said. To date, Bougainville People's Congress President Joseph Kabui has been calling on the national government to present its counter offer political package in response to the one from the people presented by Governor John Momis to Sir Michael Somare at Hutjena last December. The talks have been set for next week in Arawa, from January 24-28 however, Bougainville leaders believe that the national government is not ready yet to present its counter offer, therefore a delay must take place. "Based on information reaching us, PNG does not seem to be ready with a counter offer to our political package presented to Sir Michael on our first round of negotiations. Therefore we believe it is wise to defer the second round of negotiations to the middle of next month. "Agreements reached on these important issues will bail out the national government from a possible chaotic situation. "Before we move on, the Bougainville leaders want the national government to first of all, table its counter offer on the joint Bougainville negotiating position," Mr Kabui said. He said the people of Bougainville refused to see the next round of political talks as a debriefing session by the national government. He stressed that while negotiations is the only way forward to establish a government on Bougainville, other arrangements being worked out currently following the Supreme Court's ruling should not be seen as an obstacle to a negotiated political settlement. He said these matters will be best left with the national government to deal with as an interim measure to facilitate services according to law.

The immediate interest for all Bougainville leaders at both the national and provincial levels was the counter offer by the government on key issues including the highest autonomy and referendum on independence, Mr Kabui said. According to the source in Buka, the people are keen to talk about the political arrangement and not the reforms, something which the majority of people on the island are not supportive of and do not want the government to force on them. He said at the moment, people are keeping quiet on Mr Momis carrying the province's governor's hat and therefore, have not come out to openly discuss the topic however, they are pleased to see him working closely with the BPC. The common public conceptions is that the issue of reform is something for the government to sort out while they are more interested for negotiation on the political settlement to eventuate. "The leaders and people are very clear. "Time for analysis of issues is over and it is time for the right prescription to be applied. Reform is not the answer. The right medicine will be found at the negotiation table. "Reform however, is on the interim and will not be here to stay. The people of Bougainville want something new and this will be achieved through the political arrangements in the up coming negotiations, " the source said.

Source: by Veronica Hatutasi THE INDEPENDENT - 20 Jan 00

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Review

GOVERNANCE ON Bougainville is in mega trouble following the recent Supreme Court ruling to have the Organic Law on Provincial and Local level government applied on the island.

This is because no local level government member was elected in the 1997 election, Bougainville was still then under transitional government arrangements as a result of a constitutional amendment and did not have to comply. The result is that while Bougainville legally comes under the Organic Law, the four national parliamentarians are the only provincial assembly members with John Momis as Bougainville Regional MP being the automatic governor and the other members are Sam Akoitai (Central Bougainville), Michael Ogio (North Bougainville) and Michael Laimo (South Bougainville). There is no quorum to appoint a provincial executive council so no policy can be endorsed.

Source: The Independent - 20 Jan 2000

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Call to Delay Second Round of Talks Between PNG and Bougainvilleans

The president of the Bougainville People's Congress, Joseph Kabui, has called for the second round of talks between Papua New Guinea and Bougainvillean leaders to be delayed.

Mr Kabui says the talks, which are scheduled for later this month, must be delayed until the middle of February. He says this would enable the P-N-G Government to prepare its counter offer on the issues of autonomy and a referendum on independence for Bougainville. Mr Kabui has called on Prime Minister, Sir Mekere Morauta, to act immediately, to ensure normal government services continue to be delivered to Bougainville.

Source: Radio Australia - 20 Jan 00 (6.15am)

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Defer Talks: Kabui

THE second round of negotiations on the future of Bougainville should be deferred until the National Government was ready with its counter proposal, Bougainville People's Congress president Joseph Kabui said yesterday.

The meeting is scheduled to start next week, but Mr Kabui said there was every indication that the government was not prepared. He said holding negotiations is the only way forward to establish a government for Bougainville, and arrangements that were being worked out following the Supreme Court's ruling should not be seen as an obstacle to a negotiated political settlement. "The Bougainville people shall leave these to the National Government to deal with as interim measures to facilitate services according to the law," said Mr Kabui. Mr Kabui said the immediate interest for all Bougainville leaders, including Bougainville Members of Parliament, is to get a counter offer from the National Government on the issues of 'highest autonomy and referendum on independence'. "We want this to be presented by the Government during our second round of political negotiations."

Mr Kabui said he doubted that the PNG government was ready to present its counter offer. "Based on the information reaching us, Papua New Guinea does not seem to be ready with a counter offer to our political package presented to Sir Michael Somare and his delegation during the first round negotiations. "Therefore, we believe it is wise to defer the second round of negotiations to the middle of next month. "Agreements reached on these important issues will bail out the Government from a possible chaotic situation as reported in the media yesterday," said Mr Kabui. Mr Kabui said he was confident that Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta would act immediately to address the situation so that normal government services continued to flow in Bougainville.

Source: The National - 19 Jan 2000

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Time to Assess the Usefulness of PNGDF

IN realistic terms, PNG inherited the PNG Defence Force from Australia.

To this day, the structure, the system of ranks and promotions, and even the training ethos of the Force continue to exhibit marked similarities to the 1975 military structures of our former colonial ruler. In practice, we have an undisciplined Defence Force that is riddled with disunity and internal jealousies. It is a body of men whose terms and conditions have failed to keep up with the economic realities of PNG 2000. It is poorly armed and equipped. The troops have repeatedly suffered from appalling infrastructural deficiencies in the field, and from the misuse of funds intended for their support. And for many years the unity of the Force has been at the mercy of a dangerous cult of personalities. At the same time, the costs of maintaining this small body even at today's basic level accounts for tens of millions of kina of public money each year. There can be no parallel in PNG to this expenditure. The justification for the millions spent on education is the development of our children and our nation. Major funding of both health and agriculture fall into similar categories. Money spent on those sectors is money invested in the future of this country and its people. These are the less than encouraging facts facing newly appointed Defence Minister Muki Taranupi as he takes up his portfolio. Like many of his predecessors, he has stated his determination to improve conditions for his men, and to clean up the Force. But this could be the right time to assess the costs of keeping the PNGDF, and the real benefits derived from its role.

What is the logic behind having a defence force? Broadly speaking, countries have traditionally developed military forces to safeguard their people against perceived enemies and against invasions. The major powers in our region are Indonesia, New Zealand and Australia. Any one of these countries, if it was of a mind to do so, could take over PNG within 48 hours. Our tiny ill-equipped army, and our handful of aircraft and patrol boats would simply be annihilated. The truth is that the PNGDF is completely incapable of defending this country against any foreseeable external attack. Another reason for the creation of a military force is to give a country the capacity to put down armed insurrections and help maintain domestic peace. On that front, PNG has had a great deal of experience on Bougainville. It is no insult to the Defence Force, far too often the victim of political indecision and ineptitude, to say that the results of military engagements there were hardly encouraging. The ten years long civil war - a more accurate description than the often-used term 'crisis' -- has resulted in a tentative peace of exhaustion. No one could claim that the rebel secessionists suffered military defeat at the hands of the PNGDF. And only the greatest of optimists would suggest that the Force would be able to achieve military success against any similar movements in the immediate future.

There are perhaps two other not very convincing reasons for maintaining a Defence Force. One is the often-touted ability of certain companies within the military to engage in civil works programs. Certainly there is a huge need to get major infrastructural projects moving, particularly in the rural areas. But the effective use of the Defence Force in this capacity demands a high educational standard within the ranks. Other essential prerequisites include a clearly defined set of budgeted development plans, the full support of the provincial governments and the outlay of significant funds to properly equip and support those engaged in these civil projects. In other countries, the main reasons for military-sourced civil projects are the high levels of technical expertise within the defence forces, and the high standards of performance, professionalism and discipline of the officers and men involved. Sadly, it must be a matter of debate whether those criteria are currently met in PNG. The final time-honoured logic for having a defence force is as a source of national pride, a symbol of the nation's honour and as a means of bolstering a sense of unity and national commitment. Once again, ordinary people may well feel that our Defence Force currently lacks that image. And it has to be asked whether militaristic icons are appropriate for a young developing nation entering a new millennium.

Taking an objective view, it is not unreasonable to suggest that PNG might well consider doing without a defence force at all, and using the significant funding saved for the many other deserving development goals known to us all. There are other nations that survive very well indeed without defence forces. It may well be time that this matter is freshly analysed and this country's real interests identified.

Source: The National - 17 Jan 2000

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No Quorum in B'ville Provincial Assembly

GOVERNANCE on Bougainville is in mega trouble following the recent Supreme Court ruling to have the Organic Law on Provincial and Local level Government applies on Bougainville.

This is because no local level government member was elected in the 1997 election, Bougainville was still then under transitional government arrangements as a result of a constitutional amendment and did not have to comply. The result is that while Bougainvillea legally comes under the Organic Law, the four national parliamentarians are the only provincial assembly members with John Momis as Bougainville Regional MP is automatic governor and the other members are Sam Akoitai (Central Bougainville), Michael Ogio (North Bougainville) and Michael Laimo (South Bougainville). There is no quorum to appoint a provincial executive council so no policy can be endorsed. That in turn means no money can be spent as the PEC cannot endorse a provincial budget and there's no provincial assembly quorum to pass it. The issue came to light following Bougainville leader reaction to a premature declaration by a key Government Member Jimson Sauk in Canberra early this week that Bougainville would soon enjoy autonomy. The Bougainville Peoples Congress Leader Joseph Kabui has threatened to boycott the upcoming talks if Sir Michael Somare's attendance would merely be to "brief" Bougainville leaders on autonomy rather than for a negotiation. This threat is fueled by the lack of government and developmental activity on island province.

Former Bougainvillea Affairs Minister Mr Akoitai has called on the Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta to discipline his ministers or at the very least know what they are going to say in public forums on sensitive issues. "The Bougainville Crisis has caused loss of 15,000 lives - both Bougainvilleans and soldiers and policemen and it is not settled yet, said Mr Akoitai, adding that continued sensitivity was vital. He said that there's an allowance in Section 105 of the Organic Law for provinces to use one third of the total budget from the previous year but even that cannot be accessed as it requires a PEC endorsement. "Everywhere you turn, there's no option. There's a brickwall," he said, adding that fear of contempt of the Supreme Court is a key binding factor ion creative, legal solutions. He suggested that the national Government fast track the revival of the Bougainville Transitional Government through a constitutional amendment to remedy this situation. That will require several sittings of Parliament. "This problem has not been created by bureaucrats or the Organic Law; it's created by politicians so it must be remedied by politicians as quickly as possible," he said.

Source: Postcourier - 17 Jan 2000

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Bougainville Leaders Set Guidelines For Talks With PNG Govt

The President of the Bougainville People's Congress says the next round of talks on the future of Bougainville must be more than just a debriefing session by the Papua New Guinea government.

Joseph Kabui says Bougainville leaders expect some decisions by the PNG government on the need for greater autonomy and a referendum on Bougainville's future. The next round of talks between the government and Bougainville leaders are scheduled for January 24th to 28th. Meanwhile the National Court is yet to make a decision on the guidelines needed by Bougainville governor, John Momis, to enable him to establish the interim provincial government.

Source: Radio Australia - 12 Jan (6.51pm)

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Bougainville Leaders Threaten to Boycott Talks

Bougainville leaders have warned they'll boycott a scheduled round of talks on the future of Bougainville in two weeks if the Papua New Guinea government fails to come up with a counter proposal.

Spokesman Joseph Kabui says Bougainville has come up with a political package and wants the government to table its position before negotiations continue. The PNG Government is yet to announce its position, but is believed to be in the process of putting in place a government structure for Bougainville under the leadership of Governor, John Momis. Bougainville leaders submitted their position to the PNG government at the end of last year, saying they want the highest form of autonomy with a referendum to take place and negotiations to continue on Independence. Bougainville Affairs Minister, Sir Michael Somare, has assured them any decision from the Government will be in line with the country's Constitution.

Source: Radio Australia - 12 Jan 00 (2.15pm)

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Cocoa and Copra Boom Hits B'ville

THE Copra Marketing Board and Cocoa Board have reported a major increase in the production of copra and cocoa in the North and Central Bougainville areas.

Buka CMB branch manager Lazarus Emoni confirmed the increase in copra production to have tripled from the normal receivable rate of 15 tonnes, to 50 tonnes. He said that since last week the daily receivable rate for North Bougainville alone had been very high despite some problems met, while Central Bougainville had also contributed to the day's average stock. He said that despite the kina devaluation, the price of copra had been high and that was one reason why most copra growers on Buka had not missed a day's sale. Senior inspector for Bougainville cocoa board, Jacob Banas, has also reported an increase in the cocoa production for the whole island. He said that there had been an increase of 60% after the crisis and the way things were going, the board was looking at an 80% increase come February. He said so far there were more than 2000 cocoa growers on Buka Island while mainland Bougainville had a total of more than 12,000 growers. "This is a large number compared to the one before the crisis, but we are more than happy to help these people as they are striving to earn their living," Mr Banas said.

Meanwhile, Central Bougainville MP Sam Akoitai said that he helped to set up 40 fermentaries in Central Bougainville when he noticed the increase in production of cocoa in that area to more than what was produced in the past. He also announced a total of seven solar dryers yet to be shipped and distributed to the most affected growers. He said that in his assessment, since 1997 cocoa and copra production had been the major commodities for Central Bougainvilleans after the 10 years of living in the dark. He said: "People needed money, clothes and everything to survive after the Bougainville crisis and this caused them to start looking for things, but they need not look far as they have their cocoa and copra to turn to." Mr Akoitai said that the only problem they had was transporting of these commodities out of the main land to Buka Island, where all the businesses were. He reported that despite all the setbacks - transport, roads and bridges - his people were happy after PNG Harbours Board re-opened the main port in Central Bougainville with the CMB being allowed a 12-month exemption out of Kieta. He said: "Despite the problem of road upgrading including several bridges yet to be fixed, the news of the re-opening and for a company to operate directly within the mainland has been welcomed by all the people there."

Chief executive officer for the CMB James Kiele said since the Kieta port was opened, an amount of 500 tonnes had been received. He said that its growing need resulted in Nabue Overseas Export Agency being given an export permit on the island to make things easier and also due to the special and sensitive situation in there. He said that this had been a part of the Gov-ernment's restoration program for the people on the island. AusAID,, under their rehabilitation program on Bougainville, has set up a major project with the aim of rehabilitating copra and cocoa dryers to help all cocoa and copra growers. The three-year project worth $A2.9 million will cover three components. The first one is to rehabilitate 800 cocoa dryers for quality improvement, establishing or distributing 450 fermentries, solar dryers especially for youths, widows, mothers and farmers on Bougainville, providing 600 rehabilitate-registered copra dryers and providing 250,000 forestry seedlings for the Bougainville people.

Source: Postcourier - 11 Jan 2000

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PNG's Land Laws 'Unique'

UNITED States Con-gressman Donald Payne left Papua New Guinea on Friday after a three-day visit, impressed with the peace process on Bougainville, among others.

Mr Payne also had an eye-opener about the land ownership system in PNG, which he described as unique compared to other parts of the world. He said if PNG, as a nation, was to benefit in the global economy, which was moving forward with the new millennium, other nations must understand its land tenure system. "I think it's important that people understand your laws pertaining to land rights as I've been educated that about 95 per cent of the land belongs to the people and that there is genealogy and tracing of land ownership" he said. "I think that is something we need to understand in our country and with potential investors, that there is a cultural situation here that is different than many places in the world. And I think that the more we get educated as to the customs and the traditions of other countries, the better we are as a nation." He said the United States was aware of PNG and other Pacific nations, but internal problems in Indonesia, relations with China and Japan, among others, had kep the spotlight out of the region for some time. Mr Payne, a member of the United States House International Relations Committee, also had brief discussions with Bougainville Affairs Minister Sir Michael Somare regarding the civil strife there, the cease-fire and the peace process generally. "I had an interest in the problem in Bougainville because of the long standing civil strife there and the problem as related primarily with the gold mine and the degradation to the people in that region, there was a certain interest. "On my part, I have a strong leaning towards human rights and that's been one of my interests in the International Relations Committee, that where I think that people's human rights are being violated I have an interest to look into that," he said. Mr Payne has been involved with human rights cases in Cyprus, Northern Ireland and several African countries. He will make a brief report to the Committee in the US.

Source: Postcourier - 11 Jan 2000

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Court Ruling Calls for Legal Clarification

THE Government will ask the National Court for advice on establishing the Bougainville Provincial Government.

Bougainville Affairs Minister Sir Michael Somare said the Governor for Bougainville John Momis, his colleague MPs and other key Bougainville leaders, were being consulted. "The decision to go back to court was made because of uncertainties in the law about the best way of setting up a fully functioning legal entity at the earliest opportunity, following the recent Supreme Court ruling that the previous government's attempt to suspend the Bougainville Provincial Government on January 1, 1999 was illegal," Sir Michael explained. He was speaking after Cabinet had considered a joint submission from him, the Minister for Justice Kilroy Genia and the Minister for Provincial and Local Governments Andrew Kumbakor. "The Government is firmly committed to working closely with the Governor and the other MPs in giving effect to the Supreme Court's decision by setting up an effective provincial government in Bougainville, without unnecessary delay. "We fully support the pledge they have made to adopt an inclusive approach, which seeks to involve all major groups, including the Bougainville People's Congress, the Leitana Council of Elders, and other parties involved in the Bougainville People's Congress," he said.

Sir Michael expressed hope that Francis Ona and his hard-core supporters would play an active part. "The Government recognises the strong reservations which a number of Bougainvillean leaders and groups have about coming under the provincial government reforms. "We also hear the cries of people around Bougainville for government to provide the goods and services, which are not only vital to ensuring that normalcy returns but which are their right. "We are prepared to establish the Bougainville provincial government without prejudice to the agenda or outcome of future political talks. "We strongly support the efforts which the Governor, his fellow MPs and other leaders are making to set up a broader mechanism, which will enable them to consult regularly before the provincial assembly and the provincial executive council finally decide on matters within their respective areas of responsibility," Sir Michael said. The Supreme Court has decided; the law must be obeyed.

Source: Postcourier - 4 Jan 2000

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Canberra 'Considered' Army Control of Mine

AUSTRALIA'S role in the already shaky peace process for the Bougainville conflict in PNG is likely to come under further challenge from independence supporters, following new revelations found in previously secret Australian Government documents

These documents reveal that Canberra considered the use of military force to overcome landowner opposition to the development of the Bougainville copper mine - the source of restiveness that later became a full-blown rebellion that has yet to be fully settled today, after 11 years. The previously secret 1969 Cabinet submissions were released to the public on the first day of the year by the Australian Archives office. They revealed that even before the construction of the Panguna copper mine in Bougainville island, the Australian Government knew of the mounting landowner opposition to the project and discussed the possible need to use military force to ensure it proceeded.

Before Independence in 1975, Papua New Guinea was administered by Australia. Conzinc Rio Tinto (CRA), an Australian mining company, was pushing to develop the massive copper deposit that became the Panguna mine. A 1969 intelligence committee report, appended to one of the Cabinet submissions, reveals that officials ridiculed mine opponents as "collaborators with the Japanese" during World War II, dismissed as "suspect" the motives of a member of Papua New Guinea's Parliament leading concerned landowners, and argued that he was "probably motivated by self-interest". In a submission to Cabinet in April 1969, the Minister for External Territories, C.E. Barnes, informed his Cabinet colleagues of opposition to the mine proposal before the project had even been established, the documents revealed. Barnes said that "until CRA has entered into occupation of the land that it requires, difficulties with the native people, including in some areas opposition to the acquisition of land or pressure for secession, may be expected". "If the CRA project is allowed to falter the government's policy for the economic, social and political development. . .will be placed in jeopardy," he warned. Worse still, Barnes said, the Australian Administration could also "be liable to pay substantial damages to CRA" if the project did not proceed. Barnes discounted the prospect of a secessionist movement emerging as "unlikely" but conceded that there was "a possibility of passive or active resistance to the occupation of land in conjunction with the CRA project". Barnes urged his Cabinet colleagues to consider the "deployment of elements of the Pacific Islands Regiment (PIR)". Barnes noted that Cabinet had already given its approval for "planning to be put in hand for the provision of military assistance as a last resort". The Cabinet was less enthusiastic than Barnes, referring his proposal to an Inter-Departmental committee. In a separate submission in August 1969, Barnes supported a proposal from CRA that they be allowed to use up to 1600 Asian workers for the construction of the project. "It is suggested that workers indentured from Asian countries are more amenable to control and discipline and would be less likely to cause serious social problems on Bougainville than large numbers of Australian or European construction workers," he wrote.

Source: Postcourier - 4 Jan 2000

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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)