History of Melanesia|
Date: Tue, 18 Nov 1997 01:31:24 -0500
Sender: Southeast Asia Discussion List <SEASIA-L@msu.edu>
Subject: Fwd: PNG: Unarmed Pacific peace force due in Bougainville
Unarmed Pacific peace force due in Bougainville
in Singapore Straits Times
18 November 1997
WELLINGTON -- An unarmed Pacific peacekeeping force will begin
arriving on the war-torn Papua New Guinean island of Bougainville
within days as a truce takes effect to end a decade-long civil war,
New Zealand Foreign Minister Don McKinnon said yesterday.
Meanwhile, PNG Prime Minister Bill Skate said in Port Moresby that
his Cabinet had approved the deployment of the force.
Mr Skate said that there had been a "tremendous relaxation of
restrictions", particularly with regards to travel to and from
government and rebel-controlled areas, since a ceasefire was agreed
upon on Oct 10.
However, he added that the "presence of monitors is justified" by
the "tensions and distrust between the combatants" in Central,
South and North West Bougainville.
The truce-monitoring force was agreed upon by Mr McKinnon and PNG's
Minister of Bougainville Affairs Sam Akoitai.
The bulk of the Truce Monitoring Group, which include Australians,
Tongans, Fijians and ni-Vanuatu forces, will be led by New Zealand
In addition, the force of up to 260 soldiers will be rotated, with
150 truce-monitors on the island at any one time.
"As a neutral body, the truce-monitors will help to reduce tension
on the island between the different groups, build trust and
discourage potential breaches of the Burnham Truce," Mr McKinnon
Since 1988, the Bougainville Interim Government (BIG) and its
military arm the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) have been
fighting for the independence of the 10,660 sq km island, home to
They also demanded US$11.3 billion (S$18 billion) compensation for
the "environmental, social and land destruction and chemical
pollution" caused by the Panguna copper mine in the centre of the
The latest move follows a New Zealand engineered breakthrough in a
deadly stalemate which saw a major crisis build around the arrival
of South African and British mercenaries on Bougainville early this
When the presence of the mercenaries was revealed, PNG troops
staged a rebellion and brought down the government of then Prime
Minister Sir Julius Chan.
Following the crisis, New Zealand brought the parties involved
together to Burnham Military Camp in July to discuss a ceasefire.
After the talks, a New Zealand navy frigate then delivered the
rebels back to Bougainville.
The sides returned to Burnham in late September and agreed on a
truce ahead of a formal meeting of leaders to be held by the end of
January next year.
Meanwhile, Mr Skate also said in his statement that the sides would
meet tomorrow in Cairns, Australia.
Copyright =A9 1997 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.