NEW BOUGAINVILLE GOVERNMENT ASSEMBLY WILL MEET JANUARY 13

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By Philip Kepson

RABAUL, Papua New Guinea (January 5, 1999 - The National)---Bougainville leaders have earmarked Jan. 13 as the date for convening the first constituent assembly meeting of the Bougainville Reconciliation Government (BRG), rebel spokesman Andrew Miriki said yesterday.

Mr. Miriki said between now and Jan. 13, the parties involved in the peace process would hold consultations to decide procedures for the operation of the assembly in line with the BRG constitution that was adopted about two weeks ago.

He said rebel leader Joseph Kabui and former Premier Gerard Sinato would head the constituent assembly with the assistance of Bougainville Affairs Minister Sam Akoitai.

Other members of the assembly include the other three MPs and representatives from different factions, including women and churches on Bougainville.

He said the constituent assembly will operate until a proper election is held in March to form the BRG.

Mr. Miriki said the purpose of allowing Bougainville to operate outside the provincial reform laws was to maintain the peace process.

"In other words, the consultation process will continue after (the proposed) BRG election," he said.

Reacting to the Buka council of elders' move to make Bougainville the 20th province, Mr. Miriki said it was instigated by self-interested people.

"These leaders have always been putting their interest in front instead of the people's. If they were genuine about what they are doing, they would have made their way to the consultation table instead of going to Port Moresby," he said.

"If any person or group is not happy about any of the issues in the consultation process, they must act responsibly by taking it up with the parties involved in the peace process."

The main parties to the peace (consultative) process since the signing of the Jan. 23 Lincoln Agreement last year include Chief State Negotiator and Rabaul MP Sir John Kaputin, Bougainville Affairs Minister Sam Akoitai, Premier Gerard Sinato, rebel leader Joseph Kabui, rebel commander Sam Kauona, resistance commander Hilary Masiria, and the other Bougainville MPs - Michael Ogio (North Bougainville), Michael Laimo (South Bougainville), and Mr. Momis (regional).

He said the Lincoln Agreement was based on a bipartisan approach, and any member of the peace process or others from the public who tried to act outside the consultation process, particularly without consulting other members, would only be wasting their time.

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

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