BOUGAINVILLE FACTIONS WILL MEET AGAIN IN CANBERRA

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CANBERRA, Australia (March 22, 1998 - PACNEWS/Ioane)---Representatives of all major Bougainville factions will meet in the Australian capital, Canberra, next month to discuss details of the cease fire to take effect on the Papua New Guinea island beginning April 30.

PNG officials told The Australian newspaper that the primary purpose of the follow-up to last month's Canberra meeting is to discuss the make-up of the international peace-keeping force to be deployed on Bougainville.

The truce currently is being supervised by a multi-national Truce Monitoring Group.

An agreement signed by officials from the Bougainville factions and the government of Papua New Guinea at a meeting in Christchurch, New Zealand last month paved the way for permanent peace on the mineral-rich island after a decade of secessionist war.

Meantime, Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Bill Skate and senior members of his cabinet last week made a passionate plea to protect the fragile Bougainville peace process.

In a direct response to reported threats by the Opposition that it would not support the peace effort on Bougainville, Skate, Deputy Prime Minister Michael Nali, Bougainville Affairs Minister Sam Akoitai and Provincial Affairs Minister Simon Kaumi held a joint news conference at which they pleaded against such a partisan approach, The Post Courier reports.

Skate, who joined the conference towards the end, said the peace process should be supported and those in the forefront of it, both from Bougainville and the rest of PNG, should be given full credit for the progress to date.

Nali, who led the news conference in Skate's place, said "We in government feel that such talk and approach by the Opposition is not good."

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