REVEL LEADER KABUI WARNS OF MORE BOUGAINVILLE BLOODSHED

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REBEL LEADER KABUI WARNS OF MORE BOUGAINVILLE BLOODSHED

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (December 4, 1998 - The National)---Blood could be spilled if Bougainvilleans were stopped from setting up a reconciliation government, rebel leader Joseph Kabui said yesterday.

"Any other way, it is bound to lead into chaos," Mr. Kabui said.

"There is a likelihood of even blood spilling again on Bougainville if we do it any other way."

Mr. Kabui said Bougainvilleans would establish their own reconciliation government, after legislation setting up an interim Bougainville Reconciliation Government failed to pass through Parliament on Wednesday because of lack of support from the Opposition.

But Prime Minister Bill Skate said yesterday it was impossible under PNG's constitution to set up any reconciliation government without the enabling legislation.

"You can't," Mr. Skate told reporters.

"We have a constitution and we should respect the constitution."

Mr. Kabui said there was "no turning back" for Bougainvilleans on the issue of a reconciliation government, even if they had to set it up themselves.

"Whether it is constitutional or legal, we don't give a damn," Mr. Kabui said.

The interim BRG would have been put in place on January 1, had the Opposition supported the enabling legislation in Parliament.

Mr. Kabui said the failure to pass the legislation indicated a solution to the Bougainville crisis lay outside the constitution of PNG and reinforced the belief that PNG did not care about Bougainville.

He said the failure to have the legislation passed was a result of "petty politicking" by the Opposition.

Mr. Skate said yesterday he would travel to Bougainville next week to meet with leaders from the Bougainville Transitional Government and the rebels.

"I will be going down to see my brother, Joseph Kabui. He's my brother. He's a Papua New Guinean whether he likes it or not. I'm still his Prime Minister," Mr. Skate said.

"If he's angry he should blame the Opposition for failing to support me."

Mr. Skate said the position taken by the Opposition was very irresponsible, especially after they had pledged to help the Government pursue peace on Bougainville through a bipartisan approach and struck a deal for Mr. Skate not to adjourn Parliament for more than seven months.

Mr. Skate was speaking to reporters at Government House after the latest defector from the Opposition, Imbonggu MP Peter Peipul and Dei MP Puri Ruing, were sworn in as Public Service Minister and Vice Minister for Rural Development and NBC respectively.

"The Opposition has miserably failed to support me and my Government. They agreed with me (in exchange for their support) not to adjourn Parliament for more than seven months. I have the numbers and I could have easily adjourned Parliament until (election time in) 2002," Mr. Skate said.

Bougainville Affairs Minister Sam Akoitai is expected to hold talks with Bougainville leaders today.

Asked what sort of government Bougainville would now have after the term of the current Bougainville Transitional Government expires on December 31, Mr. Skate said he had "no idea."

However, under existing laws, Bougainville would get a government similar to those that other provinces have, and the regional MP for Bougainville, John Momis, could become the Governor.

Mr. Kabui said Bougainvilleans opposed such a government because they believed it would centralize power over Bougainville with politicians in Port Moresby.

Mr. Skate said he did not think the Bougainville peace process would be threatened by the latest developments.

"I don't think the peace process will disintegrate," he said.

"I think we are Melanesians. We have our own style."

The Prime Minister refused to say if a solution to the failure of the passage of the legislation could have been found if Parliament had not been adjourned until July 13.

"I will not answer that question because it's got nothing to do with you," Mr. Skate said.

Opposition leader Bernard Narokobi has said the government adjourned parliament until July 13 to postpone a no-confidence motion expected against Mr. Skate in early February.

Mr. Skate denied it, saying the adjournment was aimed at giving government MPs time to explain the government's 1999 Budget to their electorates.

PEACE WON'T FAIL ON BOUGAINVILLE: PRIME MINISTER SKATE

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (December 4, 1998 - Post-Courier)---Failure to pass a constitutional amendment on the establishment of the Bougainville Reconciliation Government will not destroy the peace process on Bougainville, Prime Minister Bill Skate said yesterday.

"It won't disintegrate. We are Melanesians and we respect each other and the Constitution,'' he said.

Mr. Skate was answering questions from reporters at Government House as to what would happen to Bougainville now without Parliament approving the most crucial bill on BRG.

He blamed the Opposition for failing to deliver votes to pass the amendment which needed two-thirds absolute majority: 73 Members. "The Government produced 54 and the Opposition only gave three votes,'' he said.

However, Mr. Skate was adamant the peace process would not break down and offered to fly to Bougainville on Friday next week to meet leaders there.

North Bougainville Revolutionary Army commanders in a joint statement said Parliament had demonstrated its ignorance and insensitivity when many Members were not in Parliament to support the bill.

Asked what the Government intended doing with BRA chief Joseph Kabui's reaction to move ahead with the setting up of the BRG, the Prime Minister said: "Joseph Kabui is my brother. I will be going to see him, whether he likes it or not. He is a Papua New Guinean and I respect him in that regard. He is a great leader and I will meet with him.'' On the move by Mr. Kabui to go ahead with establishing BRG without Parliament's approval, he said that would not be possible and would be unconstitutional.

"We cannot operate outside the Constitution and I will not support any moves to set up any government that is not recognized by the Government,'' he said.

Mr. Kabui said after the second failed vote that Bougainville leaders would go ahead and set up the BRG with or without Waigani's approval.

"Illegal or unconstitutional they may be, we don't give a damn. We will set up the BRG,'' he declared.

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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