PNG GOVERNMENT ENDORSES NEW BOUGAINVILLLE AGREEMENT

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (May 7, 1999 – Radio Australia)---The Papua New Guinea Cabinet has formally endorsed a new agreement with Bougainville leaders and has directed Government agencies to begin implementing the accord.

But as Radio Australia correspondent Richard Dinnen reports, one Bougainville faction has refused to recognize the agreement.

"The so-called understanding was signed last month by Bougainville leaders meeting in New Zealand.

"The PNG Cabinet is now moving to implement its terms, including preparations for an election for a new local administration on the island.

"The Minister responsible for Bougainville, Sam Akoitai, acknowledges implementation won't be easy, but says the Government will do all it can.

"Elements of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army have distanced themselves from the agreement, saying it's incomplete, ineffectual and devastating to the parties on Bougainville.

"Richard Dinnen, Port Moresby."

BOUGAINVILLE ELECTION BEGINS DESPITE CONCERNS

By Philip Kepson

RABAUL, Papua New Guinea (May 6, 1999 - The National)---The Bougainville People’s Congress (BPC) election started this week in some parts of the island despite concerns by the Laitena Council of Chiefs and resistance forces that the leaders to the BPC should be selected instead.

Provincial electoral chief Mathias Pehei said the election started on Monday after it was delayed for a week, following the signing of the Matakana and Okataina Understanding in New Zealand.

Bougainville Affairs Minister and Central Bougainville MP Sam Akoitai had authorized an indefinite delay of the election while awaiting a decision by the Supreme Court on the constitutional challenge by Regional MP John Momis. The matter is currently being heard.

The Provincial Government was suspended on January 1, immediately after the Bougainville Transitional Government's (BTG) term had expired. After the suspension, the National Executive Council had appointed John Siau as administrator for Bougainville, to take charge of the administration.

It is not known whether the National Government has authorized Mr. Siau to allow the electoral officers to proceed with the election, which will cost around K 400,000 (US$ 164,406).

The areas where the elections are currently being held include Buin, Nagovis, Siwai and Konnou (in South Bougainville), and Wakunai, Tinputz, Selau, Nisan Island and the Atolls (in North Bougainville).

The election will not take place in the 14 constituencies in Central Bougainville (Arawa-Kieta) as representatives in that electorate were selected by the chiefs, including Mr. Kabui for his Eivo 3 constituency.

Mr. Pehei said two other constituencies in South Bougainville that will not have elections include Motuana and Huyone, as rebel strongman Jonathan Ngati and Albert Punghau were selected by their chiefs.

He said the 69 constituencies from the three main regions (electorates) had attracted a total of 221 candidates, with North Bougainville leading the list with109, followed by South Bougainville with 78.

Mr. Pehei said the polling in those places is expected to end at the end of this week and the counting will take place in Buka mid next week.

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