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MEDIA RELEASE April 8, 1998

BOUGAINVILLE---In a statement released on the evening of Tuesday 7 April from Bougainville the Bougainville Interim Government/BRA Delegation and Team Leader, Vice President Mr. Joseph Kabui, said the meeting organized by Mr. Ona with outsiders might be premature.

Mr. Francis Ona who is the President of the Bougainville Interim Government has called for a wide ranging meeting with Bougainville leaders including senior public servants and private sector executives from April 15-17 in Bougainville.

Mr. Ona also deliberately excluded himself from attending all the peace talks and negotiations since July last year; and all attempts (including the first Political Leaders Meeting in Lincoln, New Zealand) to bring him to these talks failed.

"I am most encouraged by Mr. Ona's initiative to call for this wide ranging meeting but I think that to include outsiders is premature at this stage. The BIG/BRA Peace Talks Delegation since July 1997, have embarked on a huge program in promoting the Peace Process in Bougainville and are still to meet and brief Mr. Francis Ona on the outcomes of these meetings."

"BRA General Sam Kauona and myself have therefore sent a strong request to Mr. Francis Ona to meet with him first before his proposed meeting with others. It is most important for Bougainville leaders to have such meetings regularly as we approach the serious political issues that will determine the future status of Bougainville."

"It is not the right time for Bougainville leaders to be unilaterally deciding their own personal career paths at present. I say this, and it is most regrettable, that one of the Bougainville leaders invited by Mr. Ona, Dr. Sir Alexius Sarei, has now been appointed by PNG to be its new UN Ambassador in New York. This appointment is sheer manipulation by Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister as an attempt to pre-empt the outcome of the Bougainvillean desire for their political destiny. Such political maneuvering for which we fear Mr. Francis Ona could be a victim, would have the potential of destroying the current peace process."

In his meeting with General Baker of the Australian Defence Force at Aropa today in Bougainville, Mr. Kabui continued to emphasize transparency, as the Australian Government sets to take over the leadership role from New Zealand. And also increases its presence on Bougainville through the Truce Monitoring Group, and the proposed Peace Keeping Group after the Cease-fire Agreement is signed and takes effect on 30 April 1998. He also raised his fears at Australia's recent budget commitment with the PNG Defence Force to re-equip it with modern military gear and other equipment.

"Transparency is going to be the most fundamental cornerstone of this current peace process. To dishonor it would be to be responsible for its `death', and we in Bougainville are not about to see that it ends this way. We continue to call for honesty within this process from PNG and Australia", concluded Mr. Kabui from Bougainville.

For further information please call Mr. J. Kabui on 0011 872 761334457

Title -- 1282 BOUGAINVILLE: Ona's meeting 'premature'

Date -- 9 April 1998 Byline – None Origin -- Pasifik Nius Source -- VIKKI@lexsun.law.uts.edu.au, 8 April 1998 Status -- Unabridged

This document is for educational and personal use only. Recipients should seek permission from the copyright source for reprinting. This PASIFIK NIUS service is provided by the niusedita via the Journalism Program, University of the South Pacific, and Journalism Studies, University of PNG

Please acknowledge Niuswire: niusedita@pactok.net.au http://www.pactok.net.au/docs/nius/

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