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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)
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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 process.''

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 Government.

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.

Agence France-Presse

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