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September 29, 1998


The Bougainville Interim Government (BIG) and Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) are cautiously studying the Papua New Guinea (PNG) bi-partisan deal on the Bougainville peace process.

The package includes the term of the Bougainville Transitional Government (BTG) ending on December 31, 1998 when a new Reconciliation Government comes into effect on 1 January 1999, with a fully democratically elected government to come into operation by June 1999.

The bipartisan deal further proposes that both sides of the house support government amendments to the constitution and the organic laws on Provincial Government to agree that such arrangements will only be:

Four Bougainville MPs are to become full members of the BRG with full rights to speak, vote and stand for any executive or elective office, and for arrangement to be made for election of the BRG by 30 June 1999.

"Whilst the above arrangement seems to be in line with some thinking of the people of Bougainville, we are, however, disappointed that the Papua New Guinea government has once again seen fit to go on its own tangent, that it did not have the full participation of all parties to the conflict. This is seen as a breach of the consultation spirit established since Burnham 1.

"We also feel that a subject of this importance would have been a matter to be discussed during the coming PNG/Bougainville Political Summit. We clearly advise against any attempt to preempt any outcome of our future negotiations which we see as very sensitive," the Secretary of the BIG, Martin Miriori said.

"The BIG/BRA consider ourselves as being outside of the Papua New Guinea Constitution and in this regard we would be also carefully studying the likely implications of the four Bougainville members of the Papua New Guinea Parliament assuming automatic membership in the BRG. The four MPs should not therefore claim to represent the views of BIG/BRA and make commitments on their own in Port Moresby without any prior consultation with BIG/BRA on these such very delicate issues. What is the "fine print" that has not yet been made available to the general public, the BIG/BRA and BTG?" Mr. Miriori asked.

"This new agreement of PNG bi-partisanship may well be a suitable proposal to the next PNG/Bougainville talks. PNG has the same rights as Bougainville to hold its own forums and agree on a common position to present to the negotiation table. Bougainville has had a similar exercise. The proposal may well be debated and even adopted. It must not be imposed on Bougainville by PNG ahead of an agreement being reached between all parties.

"Once again, BIG/BRA is strongly opposed to any interim political arrangement which will either impose Mr. John Momis as Governor of Bougainville or make BIG/BRA an unequal partner in the Bougainville Reconciliation Government with BTG", Mr. Miriori concluded.

This public article was forwarded by NOBBY:

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