History of Melanesia|
Date: Mon, 24 Nov 1997 10:59:43 GMT-1000
From: "Vikki John (Bougainville Freedom Movement)" <V.email@example.com>
Subject: (Fwd) Bougainville News 24/11/97
PNG rejects independent Bougainville poll
By Greg Roberts, in Sydney Morning Herald Newspaper
24 November 1997
The Papua New Guinean Government has ruled out a referendum on
independence for Bougainville, despite warnings by the rebel
Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) that without it a truce enforced
on the island could be shattered.
Mr Robert Igara, the leader of the PNG delegation at Bougainville peace
talks underway in Cairns, said Port Moresby had not changed its
longstanding position that the island is an integral part of PNG.
"That is the position of successive Papua New Guinean governments and
this peace process does not change that at all. Bougainville will
always be a part of PNG," said Mr Igara, the head of the PNG Prime
Mr Igara said the details of a political solution to the nine-year
conflict would be thrashed out at a meeting of leaders of the parties
to be held in January.
He was responding to a warning on Friday by the BRA's military
commander, General Sam Kauona, that rebels would resume the war and
"crush PNG" if a referendum is not held.
General Kauona also warned that unarmed Australian troops attached to
an international truce-monitoring force being deployed on Bougainville
risked being fired upon by renegade elements of the PNG Defence Force
seeking to undermine the peace process.
Mr Igara said the truce-monitors had nothing to fear from PNG troops,
and that if there was a risk to them it would be from dissident BRA
guerillas opposed to the truce.
He also made it clear that PNG expected all of the $135 million in aid
for Bougainville promised by Australia over the next five years to be
channelled through Port Moresby.
The office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Downer, said on
Friday that the Federal Government was prepared to discuss finance for
specific aid projects with the BRA and its political wing, the
Bougainville Interim Government (BIG), which controls much of central
and southern Bougainville.
"We are not aware that Australia has recognised the BIG as a separate
legal entity" Mr Igara said.
A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said yesterday that
although funds could be directed to the BIG, projects would first have
to be cleared with Port Moresby.