BOUGAINVILLE FACTIONS AGREE ON DRAFT CEASE FIRE

CANBERRA, Australia (March 16, 1998 - PACNEWS)---Representatives of the Bougainville factions have approved a draft cease fire agreement to end nine years of fighting on the copper-rich island.

The draft agreement, initialed by the four factions early Saturday will now go back to the leaders for ratification. In some instances there will be further consultation between faction members before the agreement is signed at a ceremony at a time and place yet to be announced.

The draft agreement sets out the terms and conditions for the cease fire due to take effect on Bougainville at midnight on April 30. It is in accord with the Lincoln Agreement on peace, security and development signed Lincoln University in Christchurch, New Zealand in January, but no details have been released.

Some 40 delegates from the Papua New Guinea Government, the Bougainville, Transitional Government, the Bougainville Interim Government and the Bougainville Revolutionary Army attended the week-long meeting held at a tourist resort just outside Canberra. There were observers from the Solomon Islands, Fiji and Vanuatu.

Delegates were briefed on Australia's commitment of $AUS132.4 million ($US 89 million) to the reconstruction of essential services on Bougainville over a period of five years, the role of the United Nations in the peace process and the establishment of a police service for the island.

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