BOUGAINVILLE RECONCILIATION GOVERNMENT AGREEMENT TO BE SIGNED THIS WEEK

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By Frank Senge Kolma

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (January 5, 1999 - The National)---The Government will this week sign an agreement which it hopes will bring the newly formed Bougainville Reconciliation Government (BRG) under the ambit of the PNG Constitution.

Bougainville Affairs Minister Sam Akoitai said the agreement, called the Basic Agreement, was approved by Cabinet on Friday morning after it suspended the minute-old Bougainville provincial and local level government.

It provides for "an agreed framework for formal establishment of the BRG" and is allegedly consistent with the views of all parties involved in the Bougainville peace process and within the laws of PNG.

It is expected Prime Minister Bill Skate and Mr. Akoitai will fly tomorrow to Bougainville to witness the signing.

Mr. Akoitai assumed all executive responsibilities over Bougainville after Cabinet suspended the provincial government after it came into effect automatically at midnight on New Year's Day.

Yesterday he told a gathering of senior journalists at the Golden Bowl Restaurant here that both Cabinet, which has assumed legislative powers, and himself would only operate on advice from the BRG.

He said the Basic Agreement commits all parties to:

The document comprises a statement of principles, provides for the establishment of the BRG and its structure and commits all parties to provide a report to Parliament at its next meeting recommending long-term arrangements including legislation and other preparations.

To the extent that the BRG Constitution and structure adopted shortly before Christmas are consistent with the Basic Agreement, it is adopted, Minister Akoitai pointed out yesterday.

He said Bougainvilleans had been very angry with Parliament's failure to pass the enabling laws to set up BRG and stole some vehicles from Arawa. These vehicles were returned over the weekend and the general response to the suspension of the provincial and local level government system had been "good."

He said Bougainvilleans would not accept the reformed provincial and local government system.

He insisted that any form of government adopted by Bougainvilleans would be part of a negotiated settlement and the final outcome would be within the laws of PNG.

The Minister asked all Bougainvilleans, including the Buka chiefs whose views he had presented to Cabinet, to "look carefully both at the reasons for the suspension announced on Friday morning - and at the possibilities opened up by the Basic Agreement before reaching a final judgement.

"Viewed together, the suspension and the Basic Agreement offer the best possible prospect for forming a genuinely inclusive BRG which will be accountable to the people of Bougainville and capable of producing the united leadership which will allow us to continue making orderly progress towards lasting peace by peaceful means," he said.

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

PNG PM TO VISIT BOUGAINVILLE ON FRIDAY

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (January 5, 1998 - Radio Australia)---Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister, Bill Skate, will visit Bougainville on Friday to attend the signing of the basic agreement on the establishment of the Bougainville Reconciliation Government.

Despite the failure of the PNG parliament to pass the bill on the establishment of the BRG last month, the Cabinet approved the agreement last week.

The Vice President of the Bougainville Interim Government, Joseph Kabui, said the trip will boost the peace process.

He's also called on the people of Buka Island, to abandon their call to become a province of PNG.

"Becoming a province within PNG is not a solution," he said. "The solution lies within the approach the majority of people and the Bougainville leadership have now taken and that is to take everything through the BRG.

"Use the BRG as a medium to firstly unite the people of Bougainville. Unite the various factions and then help with the reconciliation."

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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