BOUGAINVILLE PEACE AT RISK, ARMY CHIEF WARNS

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BUKA, Bougainville (April 9, 1999 - Post-Courier)---A defense commander fears the peace process in Bougainville is in danger of being derailed by violence.

Lieutenant Colonel Tarua Falaniki yesterday cited a series of incidents when reporting that the rebel leadership had yet to provide a report on the matter to the cease fire monitoring committee.

The attacks have serious implications for the peace process, the Bougainville military contingent commander noted.

He also said BRA leader Sam Kauona’s call for security forces to withdraw from Bougainville was "very misleading and deceptive."

The phased withdrawal of troops depend on the restoration of civil authority, as called for in Clause 4 of the Lincoln Agreement, he said.

Civil authority is defined as the full restoration of services, including schools, heath services, civil policing, courts and a properly constituted community government.

But this did not seem to be the case in Central and South Bougainville, Falankiki said, with cease-fire violations readily evident in those areas.

A resistance member was shot and wounded in Sikoreva, and a trade store next to Buin High School was robbed by armed BRA soldiers who fired shots to escape. A peace monitoring helicopter was shot at in Central Bougainville and armed men fired on a peace monitor's house in Arawa early this week, he announced.

Meantime, registration of candidates for the Bougainville Peoples Congress elections, due to start on April 24, has attracted 199 candidates in 69 constituencies.

The Electoral Commission office in Buka yesterday chartered a helicopter to pick up all the nominations from the districts. These were then counted and confirmed by returning officer Reitama Karavaru.

BIG Vice President Joe Kabui was elected a candidate unopposed in his EIVO 3 constituency on Tuesday, together with 13 other candidates in the Arawa district.

In the Siwai district, another BIG strongman, Jonathan Ngati, was elected unopposed for the Motuna constituency. Andrew Miriki is being challenged by Ishmael Korake in the Wisai constituency at Buin.

Former BTG Premier Gerard Sinato faces a challenge from three other candidates in the Kunua district. His deputy Thomas Anis has seven rivals for the Haku 2 seat.

Chief provincial returning officer Mathias Pihei confirmed that Buka district alone had the highest turnout of candidates, 37, followed by Buin 31, Siwai 23, Arawa, Tinputz, Atolls and Bana districts with 14 candidates each, Wakunai 13, Kunua 12, Torokina 10, Nissan Island 9 and Selau/Suir 8.

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