SIGNING OF BOUGAINVILLE RECONCILIATION GOVERNMENT PACT DELAYED

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BUKA, Papua New Guinea (January 7, 1999 - The National)---The signing of the agreement on the formation of the Bougainville Reconciliation Government (BRG) did not take place here yesterday as expected.

Acting administrator for Bougainville John Siau said in a statement released here that the signing had to be aborted to allow further consultation among all the parties involved.

Mr. Siau said Bougainville Affairs Minister Sam Akoitai would still travel to Bougainville today to meet with former Bougainville Transitional Government and rebel leaders.

Mr. Akoitai will travel to Arawa on the same day to meet the chiefs and rebel leaders.

Resistance and rebel factions held separate meetings here yesterday to nominate their representatives to the Bougainville Constituent Assembly.

Meanwhile, Mr. Siau has appealed to the people of Bougainville to continue with their community and business activities while the Government and the Bougainville leaders finalize arrangements for the formation of the BRG.

He said there was no political or administrative vacuum in the province when the term of the BTG expired on Dec. 31, 1998.

The suspension of the North Solomons provincial government under the provincial government reforms and the appointment of the caretaker administrator acting on instructions from the Bougainville Affairs minister and the BRG were done quickly by the National Government to satisfy the wishes of the Bougainville people to continue the peace process under the BRG.

"My appointment as acting administrator for Bougainville is a direct result of the National Government's action," Mr. Siau said.

Mr. Siau yesterday briefed key government officers on the latest developments, which included the now aborted, until further consultations, signing of the basic agreement on the BRG formation and the first meeting of the Bougainville Constituent Assembly in Arawa between Jan. 11 and 15.

He said that at its first meeting, the constituent assembly would elect two co-chairmen of the assembly and begin preparatory work on BRG elections that will take place either next month or in March.

The assembly, among other things, will consider amendments to the Bougainville Constituency Act and define the electoral process to conduct the BRG elections.

Mr. Siau said the BRG would then proceed with political negotiations with the National Government on the future status of Bougainville.

"While these political arrangements are being pursued, I want to stress that the government administration is intact and will continue the delivery of services together with government departments and statutory bodies," he said. "It's business as usual for the people of Bougainville," he added.

Mr. Siau has written to special interest groups like the resistance, women, churches and indigenous religious groups to nominate their representatives for the Bougainville Constituent Assembly.

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

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