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Bougainville updates

Forwarded from Papua New Guinea Solidarity Action List.

These are all reports from the mainstream media. To be taken with a pinch of salt perhaps...

Detained aliens held in city hotel

Postcourier, 20 Oct 04

TWO expatriates detained by police for going into Bougainville's No Go Zone are "sleeping" in a Port Moresby hotel because alleged illegal Chinese nationals have overcrowded police cells. Police could not elaborate on the accommodation issue yesterday but the Prime Minister's Department yesterday confirmed that the two, New Zealander Simon O'Keefe and Australian Perry Wheeler, have been put up in a hotel while their passports are with police, Foreign Affairs and other responsible authorities, while they investigate their trip to Bougainville.

In a brief to Bougainville Governor John Momis this week, it was revealed that documents possessed by both men implied that they were here on illegal business of buying gold despite entering the country under tourist visas. Mr O'Keefe has admitted to have been at the No Go Zone in December 2003 as a hired specialist involved in fine-tuning satellite dishes and helping establish other information technology activities in the area.

Deputy Police Commissioner Gari Baki confirmed yesterday that the two men were questioned about their involvement in the No Go Zone. They questioned the two men after their arrival from Buka on Saturday. Mr Baki said police have already passed the pair's passports to the Foreign Affairs Department and the Prime Minister's office for further action. He could not comment further. Mr O'Keefe and Mr Wheeler are alleged to be part of an international money scam operating in Bougainville's No Go Zone area.

The operation is allegedly linked to similar schemes in Australia, Singapore, Solomon Islands and possibly many other Third World countries.

The two are believed to be part of the controversial lot initially reported to have landed at the decommissioned Aropa airport.

Mr O'Keefe however told Buka police during an interview that he and his partner had no association with the mystery jet.

But the Mekamui government yesterday said everyone was involved.

Bougainville: Recipe for Disaster

The National, 20 Oct 04

Editorial

PERHAPS now The National's long-standing campaign targeting the massive fraud long associated with Mr Noah Musingku will register with the authorities.

Papua New Guinea awoke yesterday to read of a sinister and deeply troubling development that appears to be the outcome of Mr Musingku's endless wheeling and dealing.

The thousands of Bougainville dead appear to count for nothing in the face of Mr Musingku's increasingly bizarre actions and demands.

Real leaders like Sir Peter Barter have spent countless hours fighting for peace on the island.

As each month passes, the island moves closer to the goals now so clearly longed-for by all thinking Bougainvilleans.

But then, like a bad penny, Mr Musingku re-appears, apparently posing as some latter-day saviour of Francis Ona and his long-sidelined Meekamui Defence Force. In his wake, the previously small number of disaffected supporters of Mr Ona have taken heart. There is now the potential for them to pose a very real threat to all that has been so bloodily fought for, and which is within the grasp of the Bougainville people.

In retrospect, it may have been better had the forces of sanity responsible for the present peace moved conclusively against Mr Ona in his no-go mountain retreat. Instead the man who became an unseen icon throughout the civil war was allowed to stay put, his real power so diluted that he represented little threat to the peace process.

Into this fragile situation stumbles the erstwhile Prince of Papala Mr Musingku, who with one clandestine plane landing threatens to destroy all that has been so painfully achieved.

Many will question the sanity of a man who arrives illegally at Bougainville's disused Aropa air strip with high powered weapons, while the rest of the population heads towards the disarmament and destruction of the many guns still on the island.

Does Mr Musingku wish to re-ignite the Bougainville Civil War?

The probable answer is that this man does not care whether conflict flames again, as long as he can extract more money from the gullible to feed his insatiable lust for power and prestige.

Fortunately, the re-appearance of this man on Bougainville, where he appears to have sought refuge from a world of creditors, has had the effect of strengthening the relationship between people once bitterly opposed to one another.

John Momis, the Bougainville Governor who has fought passionately for his people within a constitutional framework, today holds the same view of Mr Musingku as former Premier, and later BRA leader, Joseph Kabui.

The third member of this committed triumvirate is Sir Peter Barter, who continues to be responsible for the progress of peace on the island.

The on-going peace process on Bougainville must remain on track, regardless of the financial drain upon the PNG Budget.

This is not the moment for Cabinet to shrink from funding progress in the province. The efforts of Sir Peter, Governor Momis and Mr Kabui must be rewarded with real and rapid progress.

Overseas donors such as AusAID have poured money into the commercial rehabilitation of Bougainville.

The National Government must continue to do everything possible to match that progress with public sector developments, and with much-needed infrastructure, both new and restored.

And it can be done - but not by increasing the notorious slush funds to members of Parliament.

If yesterday's reports were correct - and we believe they were - the additional money to be expended on "development" in electorates would be far better spent on boosting the chances of permanent peace on Bougainville. Nearly K30 million will reportedly be allocated to boosting the slush funds. That money would be invaluable spent on Bougainville.

PNG electorates can do without projects in the short term, if the price of those projects is a return to the slaughter on Bougainville.

The National Government appears powerless to apprehend Mr Musingku and bring him to trial for massive fraud.

But it can certainly diminish his impact by continuing and expanding the contribution to rebuilding and revitalising Bougainville.

The interference of Mr Musingku in this situation must be terminated by whatever means can be found, and as rapidly as possible.

A halt, or even significant delay to the Bougainville peace process cannot be tolerated.

US Federal bank denies U-Vistract link

Postcourier, 22 Oct 04

THE United States Federal Reserve Bank yesterday denied outright having any involvement with Bougainville's fast money scheme U-Vistract and the Mekamui government.

The denial came after thousands of Bougainvilleans were promised a huge payout from the US Federal Reserve Bank and a visit to the island next month by the bank's chairman Allan Greenspan.

Central and South Bougainvilleans earlier this month were told during a large gathering that Mr Greenspan would visit. But much to their dismay, it did not eventuate as both organisations blamed bureaucratic delay by the Papua New Guinea and Bougainville governments.

Susan Stawick, of the Federal Reserve Bank public affairs office in the US, told the Post-Courier yesterday there were no plans for Mr Greenspan to visit PNG or Bougainville.

"I can assure you that there are no plans for Chairman Greenspan to travel to Papua New Guinea," Ms Stawick said. "And neither does this organisation - or money have any registration in the FRB."

Ms Stawick said the FRB had received letters of inquiry "from some money spivs in that part of that world".

During a recent meeting at Siwai, U-Vistract told the people that it had K3.75 trillion in its bank account. They also told the people it had investors from 70 nations and that the universal payout program was almost 95 per cent complete. U-Vistract and the Mekamui government also claimed they were extending to PNG, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Australia, Singapore and the rest of the world where their clients were.

"And the good news is that our long-awaited universal payout program has finally kicked off yesterday (Tuesday, June 2)," U-Vistract said.

"Clients in the 'No-Go Zone' are being paid first. We will gradually move on to Arawa, Buka and Buin in the coming weeks of this month and extend further to our clients in PNG, Solomon (Islands), Fiji, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the rest of the world."

Court rejects bid to get aircraft released

The National, 22 Oct 04

THE National Court in Waigani yesterday rejected an application by Tasman Australia Airlines to have its Cessna aircraft, currently impounded at the Tokua airport in Kokopo, released.

The aircraft was detained after making an unauthorised landing at the decommissioned Aropa airstrip in Bougainville two weeks ago.

Civil Aviation Authority director Andrew Ogil charged Tasman Australia Airlines, its owner Andrew James Reid who directed the flight and landing and pilot Peter Alfred McGee for breaching the rules and regulations of the Civil Aviation Act 2000 (CA Act).

Under section 57(2) of the CA Act, Mr Ogil also issued a detention notice and detained the aircraft as evidence in the prosecution and for assistance in further and continuing investigations.

The airline company had applied to the National Court last week, seeking orders to nullify Mr Ogil's detention notice for the release of the aircraft pending determination of the appeal.

But the court held there appeared to be a prima facie case of breaches of the CA Act. The court also held that the breaches were also criminal in nature so it could not interfere in the process by granting the orders sought in the absence of a demonstration by the airline that Mr Ogil acted erroneously and without authority.

The court said the airline may appeal under Section 57(7) and section 310 of the CA Act, but cannot file a fresh action against Mr Ogil.

The question of whether Mr Ogil properly exercised his powers is yet to be decided by the court in the substantive proceedings.

Meanwhile, Mr Reid and McGee will appear in the Waigani District Court today on charges of operating an aircraft in a careless manner and being engaged in dangerous activity involving an aircraft.

Tasman Australian Airlines has also been charged with operating an aircraft in a careless manner and causing or permitting an aircraft to be used in a manner that caused unnecessary danger to persons and property.