WE'LL FIGHT MOVE TO IMPOSE GOVERNMENT REFORMS IN BOUGAINVILLE: KABUI

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By Philip Kepson

RABAUL, Papua New Guinea (December 23, 1998 - The National)---The Bougainville Transitional Government (BTG) and rebel leaders will resist any moves to implement the provincial government reforms in Bougainville, rebel leader Joseph Kabui has said.

Mr. Kabui said they will not allow Bougainville to fall under the Organic Law on Provincial and Local Level Governments when BTG's term expires on Dec. 31.

"It is now the strong position of the BTG and the rebel leaders to resist any move by any of the parties to allow Bougainville to operate within the scope of the reform law," he said.

He was responding from Arawa to Opposition leader Bernard Narokobi's statement last week that Bougainville would automatically be covered by the Organic law, with the four national MPs becoming members of the provincial government once BTG's term expires.

"Such views from leaders of his (Mr. Narokobi's) caliber are misleading and not in the best interest of the people involved in the peace process," said Mr. Kabui.

He said the Bougainville peace process was started during the Burnham talks in New Zealand last year after nine years of bloodshed with the aim of establishing a peaceful consultation process to negotiate the issues in contention for reaching a lasting political settlement between the Government of PNG and the Bougainvilleans.

Mr. Kabui said the signing of a communiqué by Bougainville leaders two weeks ago, announcing the setting up of a reconciliation government after Parliament failed to pass bills allowing the formation of BRG, was done to let the negotiation process continue.

"It is wrong to think that allowing Bougainville to fall under the reform law (after Parliament had failed to pass constitutional amendments) or the formation of the BRG itself will bring an end to the negotiation process," he said.

Mr. Kabui said the current consultations and negotiations between the people of Bougainville and the National Government will continue until the two parties reach a lasting political settlement.

He said the formation of the BRG will still be regarded by Bougainvilleans as part of the transitional process towards reaching a lasting political settlement.

Mr. Kabui also said more than 60 leaders, including rebel commanders, chiefs, and BTG officials, had begun their meeting in Arawa to discuss a draft constitution of the BRG.

He said the leaders will adopt the constitution today, adding that a copy of the constitution will be sent to the Government for consultation before implementing it.

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

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