MOMIS REFUSAL STALLS BOUGAINVILLE TALKS

By Philip Kepson

RABAUL, Papua New Guinea (February 12, 1999 - The National)---The proposed Bougainville leaders meeting which was scheduled to start this weekend suffered another setback when regional Member of Parliament (MP) John Momis decided against Nissan Island as the venue for the meeting.

Rebel spokesman Andrew Miriki said Mr. Momis's refusal to attend the meeting at Nissan was relayed to the rebel faction and other leaders who were ready to make their way to the island.

Mr. Momis apparently would like the meeting to be held outside of Bougainville.

"We were prepared to move to Nissan when we were told this afternoon by officials from Bougainville Affairs Minister Sam Akoitai's office that the proposed meeting would not go on as planned because Mr. Momis did not want Nissan or any other place on Bougainville as the venue for the meeting," said Mr. Miriki.

Mr. Miriki said that the rebel faction on the troubled island including their political head Joseph Kabui were happy with Mr. Momis's latest decision to attend the meeting.

The leaders' meeting was proposed recently in the newly established constituent assembly meeting in Arawa to sort out infighting among Bougainville leaders following the suspension of the Bougainville Provincial Government by the Government early this year after Bougainville Transitional Government's term expired on Dec. 31, last year.

The meeting was proposed to be held early this month but did not go as planned as a result of Bougainville leaders, particularly Mr. Momis's position, against supporting any political moves by the Kabui/Sinato led faction.

Attempts to contact Mr. Momis for comments were unsuccessful but Mr. Miriki said other agenda items for the meeting include:

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

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