PEACE NOT ACHIEVED WITH USE OF FORCE, BOUGAINVILLE LEADERS SAY

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BUKA, Papua New Guinea (April 27, 1999 - The National)---The use of arms, as in Bougainville, is not the way to go about seeking lasting peace or a political settlement, Bougainville leaders say.

They said this is the main message the Bougainville leaders received from the Maori people in their two-week study tour to New Zealand.

During a briefing on the tour here yesterday, resistance force and Laitena Council of Chiefs leaders Hilary Masiria and Joel Latu Banam told government officials, chiefs and members of the public, that the 31-member Bougainville delegation was given the opportunity to learn some of the Maori peoples' practices, mainly on traditional methods of settling problems.

The two leaders said the Maori chiefs told them their ancestors had faced similar problems some 100 years ago with the colonial masters.

"We were told that their ancestors faced similar problems. But there was a moment (that the current Maoris could not forget) when a paramount chief ordered the fighters to retreat and take a new approach . That was to negotiate," said Mr. Banam.

He said they also learned how the Maoris came to improve their standard of living since changing from force of arms to peaceful negotiation.

Mr. Banam said the Maoris' willingness to help them in terms of coming up with a genuine approach towards seeking a lasting solution to the Bougainville conflict, contributed a lot to the signing of the Matakana and Okataina understanding.

"They even asked us to include Matakana and Okataina somewhere in the understanding. That's why the names of the places are included in the agreement," he said.

Mr. Masiria said the lectures the Maori chiefs offered to the Bougainville leaders were not for entertainment.

"What we got from the Maori chiefs were meant to be considered seriously by our leaders in our efforts towards seeking a lasting political solution and peace," he said.

The leaders said they would take one week to conduct a road show on their trip to New Zealand before making submissions to Chief State Negotiator Sir John Kaputin on the final political solution for Bougainville.

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