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Agence France-Presse

January 23, 1998

Key dates in Papua New Guinea's Bougainville civil war:

1768: French explorer Louis-Antoine de Bougainville visits the island which bears his name.

1898: In the Berlin Conference Bougainville becomes part of German New Guinea.

1914: Australia invades.

1920: Australia wins a League of Nations mandate over what is now Papua New Guinea.

March 1942: Japan occupies Bougainville.

May 1943: Commander of the Pearl Harbor attack, Isoroku Yamamoto, is shot down and killed over Bougainville.

November 1943: U.S. Marines land on Bougainville. Tons of Japanese and American arms left, become crucial in the current civil war.

June 1967: The Bougainville Copper Agreement gives Australia's CRA 53.6 percent ownership and most of the profits from the Panguna mine. In 1964 an Australian administrator tells local people they would get nothing from the mine. The Agreement is re-negotiated in November 1974.

September 11, 1975: Leo Hannet, then Premier of the North Solomons (which includes Bougainville), declares an independent Republic of the North Solomons.

September 16, 1975: PNG becomes independent.

November 1988: Land owners demand 11 billion kina (11.3 billion US dollars) from the Australian operated Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) and compensation for destruction and pollution.

November 22, 1988: Francis Ona leads a raid on BCL's armor, stealing explosives and destroying installations.

December 23, 1988: State of emergency in Bougainville declared.

May 15, 1989: Panguna mine closed.

May 17, 1990: Rebels proclaim independence, initially calling the new state the "Republic of Megamui" -- a name since dropped.

January 11, 1990: Prime Minister Rabbie Namaliu declares a military offensive on Bougainville

October 10-14, 1994 Arawa Peace Conference, monitored by South Pacific peace keepers. No outcome, although tentative cease-fire in place.

March 23, 1996: PNG declares end to 18-month cease-fire. "Operation High Speed II" launched.

September 8, 1996: Ten PNG Defense Force soldiers and two others killed at Kangu Beach.

October 12, 1996: Pro-PNG provincial Bougainville Premier Theodore Miriung assassinated.

February 24, 1997: Disclosures that Prime Minister Julius Chan's government has hired about 40 mercenaries through British military consultants Sandline International to mount a strike at Bougainville rebels brings protests from Australia, Britain and New Zealand. Chan says they are to train PNG forces.

February 25, 1997: Amnesty International publishes a 50-page report saying that unlawful killings and "disappearances" continue in Bougainville.

March 17, 1997: Military commander Brigadier General Jerry Singirok calls on Chan to resign over the hiring of the mercenaries and suspended all operations with Sandline International. Chan responds by dismissing Singirok and says he could be charged with treason.

March 18, 1997: Singirok agrees to step down and calls on troops massing to support him for calm.

March 19, 1997: Several thousand people mass outside the main Port Moresby barracks to back Singirok and condemn the mercenaries contract. Police fire tear gas after several shops are looted.

June, 14, 1997: Voting in PNG's two-week national elections begins.

July 1, 1997: Prime Minister Sir Julius Chan defeated in elections.

July 22, 1997 : Port Moresby Governor Bill Skate elected Prime Minister, heading a coalition government.

August 22, 1997: Australia and New Zealand announce joint new bid to bring peace to Bougainville.

January 23, 1998: Government and rebels sign a declaration of peace.

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