A COMPROMISE IN INDEPENDENCE: BOUGAINVILLE'S FRANCIS ONA

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (October 28, 1998 - Post-Courier)--- Bougainville Interim Government (BIG) President Francis Ona has not joined the peace process because he believes independence for Bougainville has been compromised, his Vice President, Joseph Kabui revealed last week.

"He thinks we have given into the national Government but for me personally, and those of us that have pursued the whole process, we have not given into the PNG Government,'' Mr. Kabui said in Buka on Friday.

"If any giving in has taken place, I have given into the wishes of the Bougainville people as clearly spelt out in the Buin Declaration.''

Mr. Kabui said Mr. Ona did not believe that he represented the independence movement any more.

"His resolve was to, in fact, push for it, that he could have got out a long time ago if he was not behind the push,'' Mr. Kabui said.

"It's not just the BRA/BIG wish, its the true feeling of Bougainville, re-enforced by the Buin Declaration. At the end of the day, the people of Bougainville long for when they will be on their own.

"The writing is on the wall.'' He said Mr. Ona had chosen not to believe that, instead preferring to be a "political Thomas.'

Mr. Kabui said Mr. Ona's absence from the continuing peace talks and the whole process would not affect the process in any way.

"You look at how the whole process has gone about. It has survived and it has gone from strength to strength despite Francis Ona's absence . And this process will go on,'' he said.

"Francis knows that. All Francis is interested in is as long as the process that we are going to follow secures at the end of the day the independent homeland; that's all he wants. He'll be okay with that.''

Mr. Kabui said his side had tried unsuccessfully to get Mr. Ona in on the talks since he decided to take his stand, which was just after the signing of the Lincoln Agreement last year.

The last personal contact between him and Mr. Ona was last May, but he added it did not mean he had anything against him.

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

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