History of Melanesia|
Bougainville leaders meet
From the Guardian (Australia)
20 September 1995
The following article was published in "The Guardian", newspaper
of the Socialist Party of Australia in its issue of Wednesday,
September 20th, 1995. Email: <email@example.com>. Republication is permitted with
acknowledgement. Subscription rates on request.
Representatives of the Bougainville Transitional Government,
Bougainville Interim Government (BIG), and Bougainvillean Members
of PNG's Parliament concluded a five-day meeting on September 12,
hosted by the Australian Government in Cairns.
The talks come at a time when the Papua New Guinea forces have
suffered serious setbacks in the war on Bougainville.
The six-year-old war along with the closure of the CRA copper
mine at Panguna on Bougainville have taken their toll on PNG's
economy which is in crisis. The PNG Government is under pressure
to implement reforms against PNG's interests, which are being
dictated by the International Monetary Fund and Australian
At the conclusion of the Cairns meeting a joint press statement
was issued over the signatures of Martin Miriori, Secretary of
the Bougainville Interim Government, and Theodore Miriung,
Premier of the Bougainville Transitional Government.
"Bougainville leaders express satisfaction at the Cairns meeting
outcome, and agree to have further consultations", said the press
"The Leaders of both sides were very much encouraged by the
outcome and declared Cairns exploratory."
The statement expressed gratitude to the Australian Government
for hosting and facilitating the meeting and to the PNG Prime
Minister Sir Julius Chan for agreeing to have the meeting held in
Mr Miriori said that the meeting was not designed to come up with
any formal resolutions at this stage.
"We have simply met to identify the problems and address those
areas of common understanding which through a process of
consultation and close co-operation, we would hope to find
solutions that will lead to a lasting peace in Bougainville. We
have agreed in principle to further develop this process through
continuing dialogue in the near future. "Having made this very
important and historical breakthrough, our task is now to go back
to our own people on the ground and explain to them our efforts
before we could be supported to take another step forward in
addressing the key issues towards resolving the conflict."
Mr Miriung, leader of the Bougainville Transitional Government,
said, "The talks were a gesture of goodwill and could be a start
of genuine reconciliation process which is designed to encourage
all people to participate fully throughout the whole process
until an effective and meaningful answer can be found."
"We also encourage all those under the force of arms to refrain
from any further armed conflict on Bougainville", said the two
Whether these latest talks are a sign that the Australian and PNG
Governments are now prepared to pursue a political rather than
military solution, and one which recognises the rights of the
people of Bougainville is still to be seen.
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