BOUGAINVILLE LEADERS FORM OWN GOVERNMENT

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By Philip Kepson

RABAUL, Papua New Guinea (December 10, 1998 - The National)---Leaders of the three main parties to the peace process yesterday agreed to set up a Bougainville reconciliation government.

The agreement was announced in a joint communiqué signed by the leaders of the Bougainville Transitional Government, the rebels and the resistance force.

The reconciliation government was set up despite the National Government's warning against it, following Parliament's failure to pass constitutional amendments aimed at establishing the BRG in line with the peace agreements.

Rebel leader Joseph Kabui said last night that the new government will be known as the Bougainville People's Congress.

Mr. Kabui said the BRG will come into effect on December 31, adding that a meeting among the main Bougainville-based parties to the peace process yesterday had finalized its formation.

He said that he, BTG Premier Gerard Sinuate, rebel commander Sam Kauona, and Deputy Resistance Force commander, Patrick Laurie, signed the joint communiqué declaring the formation of the BRG.

The signatories of the communiqué requested Bougainville Affairs Minister Sam Akoitai to accept their action and urge the National Government to accept their position, he said.

In other words, Mr. Kabui said the parties did not discuss what Mr. Akoitai had to present at yesterday's meeting because the communiqué was signed before his arrival in Arawa.

Mr. Kabui said: "By December 31, a Bougainville People's Congress will come into effect. We will adopt the constitution of the BRG on December 22."

He said rebel technical officers had been tasked with formulating the new constitution and the structure of the government.

Mr. Kabui said representation and the method for the election of the chief executive and other members of the congress will be made public after the adoption of the constitution.

He added that the formation of the BRG was not intended to frustrate other parties involved in the peace process, including the Government, but to fulfill the requirements of the Burnham and Buin Declarations, and the Lincoln Agreement.

"We had to form the BRG so the peace process can continue without any setback," Mr. Kabui said.

"Our action was done to save all parties involved in the peace process from embarrassment and breaches of the agreements."

Mr. Kabui said that the signatories of the communiqué did not shut the door for further consultation and negotiation, adding that their action was part of the transition towards restoring lasting peace through peaceful means with the Government and other parties.

"We did not shut the door for further consultation and negotiation. We did what we thought was necessary for all of us to move forward," he said.

Referring to Prime Minister Bill Skate's proposed visit to Bougainville, Mr. Kabui said he was welcome to come at any time to meet with the Bougainville leaders.

"He is welcome at any time, as we have made our position clear in the communiqué," he said.

Mr. Kabui said the joint communiqué was signed to:

* Pursue lasting peace by peaceful means, consistent with terms of the undertakings contained in the Burnham and Buin Declarations, and the Lincoln Agreement,

* Uphold and protect the terms of the cease-fire agreement currently in force on Bougainville, especially the conditions for third party involvement in the resolution, and

* Continue to maintain openness, transparency and consultation with the Government of Papua New Guinea in resolving issues raised in those agreements.

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

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