REBELS WON'T BACK BOUGAINVILLE GOVERNMENT WITHOUT TALKS

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By Philip Kepson

RABAUL, Papua New Guinea (October 19, 1998 - The National)---Bougainville rebels said they will not support any move by the Government to establish any form of government on Bougainville without providing an opportunity for further negotiation in their push for independence.

Their spokesman, Andrew Miriki, said last week from the rebel headquarters of Kansinare in Kieta, Central Bougainville, that whatever changes the parties to the conflict pursue for the establishment of the Bougainville Reconciliation Government (BRG), they should not forget the rebels' agenda of independence, which was the main purpose of their decision to be part of the peace process.

Referring to the four Bougainville MPs' proposal for the BRG when the term of the Bougainville Transitional Government (BTG) expires on December 31, Mr. Miriki said neither the parties to the conflict nor the Lincoln Agreement gave the four MPs the mandate to come up with such a proposal.

He said the rebels stood by the decision that all agenda items concerning the conflict go through the existing consultative process, adding that they would not support any proposal that came outside of that process.

The four MPs had said that in case the BRG was not elected as scheduled as a result of either failure by Parliament to pass the constitutional amendments or a breakdown in the consultative process, the new Organic Law on Provincial and Local Level Government will come into effect automatically in Bougainville on January 1, next year.

Mr. Miriki said the rebels were treating most of the four MPs' proposals as a move to stir up disappointment among members of the parties to the peace process, particularly his faction.

He said if leaders like the four MPs tried to bulldoze important agenda items in the consultative process with their own political interest, they would be the ones to be blamed for any serious setbacks in the peace process.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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