History of Melanesia|
Date: Fri, 23 Jan 1998 19:32:56 -0500
Sender: Southeast Asia Discussion List <SEASIA-L@msu.edu>
Subject: Fwd: PNG: Peace pact signed (HKStandard)
Peace pact signed
By Agence France-Presse, in the Hong Kong Standard
23 January 1998
'New day starts here' as peace pact signed
CHRISTCHURCH: Papua New Guinea leaders and rebels signed a declaration
of peace on Friday, ending more than nine years of guerilla warfare on
the Pacific island of Bougainville.
The declaration was signed at the end of five days of talks described
by participants as ''tough''. It was the first face-to-face meeting
between the Port Moresby government and rebels.
The agreement brought an end to a conflict which first erupted in a
dispute over the huge Panguna copper mine but later broadened into a
fight for independence. About 20,000 people have died in the war and
thousands more have been displaced.
According to the accord, the government and the Bougainvilleans agreed
to accept a gradual withdrawal of the PNG troops from the island. They
also agreed to discuss the future political status of their territory
once peace was established.
''A new spirit, a new day for Bougainville starts here,'' leader of
the transitional government Gerard Sinato said at the closing ceremony
of the talks attended by about 300 delegates.
''In Bougainville, people are once again smiling. The fear that has
surrounded them during the last nine years of war is gradually
disappearing,'' commander of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army
Joseph Kabui said.
''This meeting is a crossroads for the continuing success of the peace
The five-page Lincoln Agreement on Peace, Security and Development on
Bougainville turned a temporary truce agreed in October and enforced
by a 320-strong multinational group led by New Zealand into a
ceasefire to become effective on 30 April.
The declaration was signed by PNG Prime Minister Bill Skate,
representatives of the rebel Bougainville Revolutionary Army, the
Bougainville Interim Government and the Bougainville Transitional
The parties agreed to elect a government in Bougainville before the
end of this year.
The agreement called for all sides to restore peacetime policing and
to allow freedom of movement around the island.
It also outlined an amnesty for exiles and the restoration of the
island's shattered health and education services.