PRIME MINISTER SKATE FRUSTRATES BOUGAINVILLE: MP LAIMO

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By Neville Togarewa

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (July 31, 1998 - The National)---Many Bougainvilleans are frustrated because the Prime Minister and his Government failed to keep its promises of re-establishing basic services on the island, according to South Bougainville MP Michael Laimo.

He told reporters at a press conference here yesterday that while Prime Minister Bill Skate and others believe that they had resolved the Bougainville crisis, nothing was happening on the ground.

"There is a lot of frustration by former rebels, resistance forces and the people," Mr. Laimo said.

"The Prime Minister and the Government, after the Burnham and Lincoln agreements, kept saying that Bougainville was the number one unresolved problem but, until now, there is nothing on the ground," he said.

He said under the agreements, the Government should have agreed to lift the blockade and reopen basic services like education and health.

The Prime Minister visited Bougainville during Christmas, accompanied by the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands Bart Ulufa'alu, and announced publicly that he would spend money to restore services.

"In Buin, while he was addressing more than 1,000 people in care centers, he made a commitment that he would re-open all the feeder roads, schools, health centers, sub-health centers, aid posts, but 12 months after the signing of the Lincoln Agreement, there is nothing happening on the ground," Mr. Laimo said.

"I urge the Prime Minister and the Government to be practical and to provide the necessary resources to help restore these basic services. I just hope that the frustrations do not cause any more problems.

"There is a lot of uneasiness among the young people. They have been promised, and they have agreed to peace but the Government is engaged in empty talk," he said.

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