INVOLVE ONA IN BOUGAINVILLE PEACE MEETINGS: NARAKOBI

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (April 22, 1998 - PACNEWS)---The political opposition in Papua New Guinea said Tuesday night said that any meetings or negotiations in the future on the Bougainville peace process must include supreme rebel leader Francis Ona.

Opposition leader Bernard Narokobi said that Ona was the embodiment of the extreme position of the militants, and to achieve a common solution he must be the arena, not as an observer but as a leading player in the negotiations, The National reports.

"The cease fire agreement is an important initiative of the Bougainville people. It should not be frustrated by the disagreement between the various factions of the rebels or the government," Narokobi said.

He said a divided Bougainville would make it difficult to achieve a common solution. "Instead, all Bougainvillean leaders should be united in a common resolve to end the crisis."

He said it was his firm belief that the rebels must be united among themselves and come to a common understanding with the Bougainville Transitional Government (BTG) in order to press for the best they could get for their people.

He urges Ona and Kabui to iron out their logistical differences and to take a common stand.

The opposition leader said there was nothing to gain by criticizing the Australian and New Zealand peace keepers. "Along with Vanuatu and Fiji, they have done an excellent job . They must be encouraged to continue the peace keeping role," he said.

Meanwhile, parties to the Bougainville peace process are working around the clock to iron out differences between rebel chiefs Francis Ona and Joseph Kabui before the permanent cease fire coming into effect next Thursday in Arawa. Provincial peace coordinator Chris Siriosi said Tuesday from Buka that parties to last week's Pakia meeting with Ona were trying to organize a meeting between the two factions to sort out their differences.

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