FIRST PNG PREMIER, SAREI, AMONG SIX NEW HEADS OF MISSION

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By Wally Hiambohn

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (April 7, 1998 - Post-Courier/Pasifik Nius)---A prominent Bougainvillean elder has been appointed as Papua New Guinea's next Ambassador to the United Nations in New York, the Post-Courier reported today.

Sir Alexis Sarei, the first man to be a premier of a province in PNG when he led Bougainville to gain provincial government status in 1975, is among six new heads of mission whose appointments will soon be announced.

Cabinet made the appointments at its most recent meeting last Wednesday and will make the official announcement after host governments have been notified.

Sir Alexis, who fled Bougainville at the height of the crisis in the early 1990s, is believed to be living in the United States.

He will replace another former premier, Utula Samana, who has been recalled to head the national bureaucracy as Personnel Management Secretary.

Of the other appointees only one is a career diplomat. Southern Highlander Bonape Yua will replace Joseph Asaigo as High Commissioner to the Solomon Islands.

Mr. Yua recently returned from Fiji where he served as deputy head of mission in Suva. The other four are well-known public servants: Moses Maladina, Bob Nenta, Reuben Kaiulo and Renagi Lohia.

Mr. Maladina, who was until recently Air Niugini managing director, has been appointed to head the PNG High Commission in Wellington, New Zealand.

Mr. Nenta, who was replaced as police commissioner soon after the Skate government was elected, will be High Commissioner to Singapore.

Mr. Reuben Kaiulo, who is serving his third term as Electoral Commissioner, will be posted to Malaysia.

National Broadcasting Commission managing director Renagi Lohia is the next PNG High Commissioner to Australia, to be based in Canberra. He is no newcomer to diplomacy, having served three terms as PNG's ambassador to the UN in New York, where Dr. Sarei is headed.

Information on Sir Alexis' current occupation in the US is sketchy, although there have been suggestions that he does "odd jobs'' as a living.

One government official yesterday expressed disappointment about Sir Alexis' appointment, saying that although he may have been a key player in Bougainville's political developments in the past, the new task could prove too demanding.

The official said that because of his long absence from PNG, Sir Alexis would be out of touch with issues of concern to this country on the world stage.

"It is untimely for a non-public servant and non-career diplomat to be appointed to this key post, especially at a time when PNG is bidding for UN Security Council membership in 2002,'' the official said.

"The most resolute and comfortable way would have been to have people who are in the system and who are well versed with issues for such appointments.''

Title -- 1276 BOUGAINVILLE: First premier among new mission heads Date -- 7 April 1998 Byline -- Wally Hiambohn Origin -- Niuswire Source -- Post-Courier, 7 April 1998 Copyright -- Post-Courier Status -- Abridged

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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