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WELLINGTON, New Zealand---(April 30, 1999 - Post Courier)---The Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) yesterday broke away from the apparent consensus for peace reached at talks in New Zealand last week.

BRA leader Sam Kauona's right hand man, Robinson Asitau, said the organization had not signed the agreement and dissociated itself from the document.

Mr. Asitau's statement spoke critically of New Zealand's role and claimed other Bougainville leaders had "sold out"' to PNG.

He said what had started as a ``study tour'' for leaders to New Zealand was "cleverly planned" into a major negotiation session, but with officers and lawyers for the rebels and other leaders notably absent.

State negotiator Sir John Kaputin organized talks which, supported by Prime Minister Bill Skate, led to the signing of the Matakana and Okataina Understanding on April 22.

Mr. Asitau, secretary to Mr. Kauona, said the "snap negotiation"' was a carefully orchestrated set-up to trap leaders into signing a document, which had been prepared months ago in Port Moresby.

Without advice from their lawyers and technical officers, Bougainville leaders had been unprepared for it, he said.

Mr. Asitau said it was unprofessional manipulation by a "supposedly neutral party."

He said the New Zealand Government must make its position clear, whether it was a "facilitator'" or whether it had had taken over the Bougainville agenda.

He said New Zealand's own experience with the Maori situation was still unresolved and that it was not the "blue print" that Bougainville wanted to emulate.

"While we view the so-called Matakana and Okataina Understanding as clearly not binding, incomplete, uncertain, ineffectual without the signatures of the BRA; its intent is however devastating to the Bougainville parties, and is set to completely unravel the fruits of our labor since the Burnham Declaration and tries to reverse some parts of past agreements,'' said Mr Asitau.

The adviser was critical of Bougainville leaders, including Joseph Kabui of the Bougainville Interim Government, and Gerard Sinato, signing the agreement and giving away "more powers of the people to the PNG Government than they understood."

He said the "devil" was in the details, as seen in the following:

The disposal of arms was now no longer linked to the withdrawal of the PNG Security Forces from Bougainville.

While we have a BRA disposal submission before the PPCC, let me make it clear that the BRA are not going to hand in their arms without the withdrawal of the PNG Security Forces from Bougainville soil.

The present BRG elections have now been seriously undermined, implying that they are no longer proper and seriously undermines the power of the people under their own Bougainville constitution.

U.N. supervision of the disposal of arms has been removed and given to New Zealand, which undermines the role of the UN and other members of the Peace Monitoring Group.

The power of the people to negotiate, invested in the BCA (Bougainville Constituent Assembly), has now been taken away and given wholly to the PNG's State negotiator and the four Bougainvillean parliamentarians.

The people have invested their power in the BCA and the BCA representatives have no mandate to divest these powers to any other body.

Our biggest concern regarding rehabilitation, development and reconstruction on Bougainville is that of a better `mechanism'. The understanding only goes to re-entrench PNG as that mechanism which has been less than satisfactory in aid development in Bougainville. This is going to be two steps backwards, and Bougainville can expect to be worse than ever before the war.

If the people of Bougainville are forced to amend the `Basic Agreement', then the `suspension' would be lifted and Momis becomes the `Governor' of Bougainville with Bougainville effectively coming under PNG's new reforms on provincial government.''

Mr. Asitau said the BRA was seriously rethinking its position within the entire peace process.

"Underhand" tactics and moves as recently orchestrated by New Zealand and PNG under the study tour undermined the credibility of the peace process.

Countries participating in the peace process were reminded there was no room for a NATO/Kosovo method on Bougainville.


WELLINGTON, New Zealand (April 30, 1999 – Radio Australia)---The Bougainville Revolutionary Army has disassociated itself from a new understanding signed by Bougainville leaders last week in New Zealand.

Radio Australia correspondent Richard Dinnen reports, the BRA says it's rethinking its position in the peace process:

"The Bougainville Revolutionary Army has released a statement on the first anniversary of the cease-fire in Bougainville which will dampen the mood of new hope created by last week's leaders meeting in New Zealand. Spokesman Robinson Asitau says the BRA did not sign the agreement reached at the meeting, which it says is incomplete, ineffectual and devastating to the parties on Bougainville. Mr. Asitau criticized the Peace Monitoring Group, and the PNG and New Zealand Governments for their role in last week's meeting. It's not clear if Mr. Asitau speaks for all BRA factions. His comments come as PNG Prime Minister Bill Skate called the peace process encouraging, and urged continued cooperation between faction leaders.

"Richard Dinnen Port Moresby."

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