BOUGAINVILLE RECONCILIATION GOVERNMENT FRAMEWORK AGREED UPON: AKOITAI

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (December 31, 1998 - The National)---Bougainville Affairs Minister Sam Akoitai has reached agreement with the leaders of the other parties involved in the peace process on the basis for the Bougainville Reconciliation Government.

Mr. Akoitai will be asking Cabinet, which has already considered the matter, to endorse the final text of the agreement at its next meeting.

The agreement will be formally signed in Bougainville as soon as the necessary arrangements have been made, Mr. Akoitai said in a statement yesterday.

In addition to representatives of the National Government, the signatories will include the Bougainville Transitional Government, rebels and other Bougainvillean leaders.

Mr. Akoitai said the agreement had been finalized following meetings between representatives of the various parties held in Buka more than two weeks ago.

The draft they negotiated has since been adopted by Bougainvillean leaders.

Mr. Akoitai described the agreement as the most important development in the peace process since the cease fire agreement was signed in Arawa on April 30.

"The four Bougainville MPs agreed some time ago that Bougainville should not come under the provincial government reforms," Mr. Akoitai said.

"When Parliament did not give sufficient support to the amendments which we proposed, I immediately committed the Government to seeing that the BRG is established on a basis that is acceptable to the people of Bougainville and within the laws of Papua New Guinea.

"The agreement which I will be taking to Cabinet for endorsement achieves the Government's objectives."

Mr. Akoitai said the agreement provides a framework within which all Bougainvillean parties can come together and continue co-operating for the sake of the people.

He said it will help consolidate the peace process on the soundest possible basis - ongoing consultation and cooperation between all parties.

He said the agreement states quite clearly that all parties will collaborate in providing a secure environment to hold elections and continue the reconciliation process.

"And we can keep on working towards a lasting political settlement which will safeguard peace by peaceful means," he said.

"It ensures that the BRG will be broadly representative of the people and properly accountable for its actions, including the use of public funds.

"It sets a deadline by which all of the parties agree to report to the National Parliament on long-term arrangement, for which parliamentary approval, and so bipartisan support, will be needed."

The details of the agreement would be made public after the Cabinet gives its go-ahead.

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

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