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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (April 25, 1998 - The National/Pasifik Nius/Niuswire)---The special state negotiator for Bougainville, Sir John Kaputin, told the United Nations Security Council that Papua New Guinea's decision to request UN support for the Bougainville peace process "was not made lightly," the National reports.

"Papua New Guineans are proud of our national sovereignty and independence. The decision was, therefore, made only after the most careful consideration of all relevant aspects of a complex situation," Sir John said in New York.

He said that that because PNG believed that the United Nations could make a positive contribution to peaceful resolution of one of the most serious issues that has ever confronted the nation, the State was making the request in consultation with the other parties to the Lincoln Agreement.

"As the Lincoln Agreement itself suggests, the parties recognise that the State alone, speaking through its legitimate spokespersons, is in a position to make the kind of requests we do," Sir John said.

The first request was for United Nations Security Council endorsement of the neutral regional peace monitoring group, made up of unarmed military and civilian personnel from Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and Vanuatu, that will take over from the current truce monitors when the cease fire takes effect next Thursday.

The second request was for the Secretary General to send a small observer mission to report on compliance with the cease-fire arrangements.

Addressing a special, informal meeting of the Security Council at United Nations Headquarters in New York before the UN endorsed the peace agreement, Sir John described the Bougainville peace process as "a people's movement."

"It began among the women, men and youth of Bougainville," he said.

"While it has received external support, it has been sustained and promoted in the same way.

"The National Government participates in the process at the invitation of the Bougainvillean parties to the former conflict.

"While leaders of all major parties and groups in the National Government, both government and opposition - as well as independents - support the peace process, its strength and movement depend on the people on the ground."

Responding to concerns about the security situation on Bougainville, Sir John told Security Council members that the Bougainvillean "record of near-perfect respect for the truce is the most plausible possible guarantee that the cease fire which will take effect at the end of the month will be permanent and irrevocable, as the Lincoln Agreement states."

Explaining why the parties involved in the peace process look to the United Nations for support, Sir John emphasised that "the truce which has prevailed in Bougainville since October 1997 is truly a people-based truce."

"It began as it continues - almost entirely dependent on people," he said.

"The same seems likely when the cease-fire takes effect."

But, even so, Sir John told the Security Council, "it is scarcely surprising if a conflict as long, intense and costly as the nine-year old Bougainville conflict gives rise to uncertainty and fear, or if people look to outsiders to reinforce their sense of security and provide reassurance."

The neutral regional Truce Monitoring Group has been playing just such as role since December.

The Peace Monitoring Group (PMG) is expected to do the same.

In fact, "informed opinion has it that the situation in Bougainville and, even more importantly, in Bougainvilleans' minds has improved sufficiently for the PMG to be somewhat more modest in size than its predecessor," Sir John said.

Title -- 1312 BOUGAINVILLE: Kaputin says peace is people's decision Date -- 25 April 1998 Byline – None Origin -- Pasifik Nius Source -- The National (PNG), 24/4/98 Copyright -- The National Status -- Unabridged

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