KABUI THANKS NEIGHBORS FOR COMMITMENT TO PEACE

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BOUGAINVILLE, Papua New Guinea (August 10, 1999 – Post Courier)---"The involvement in the peace process on Bougainville has rekindled a cooperation that existed and taken it to new levels," Bougainville People's Congress President Joseph Kabui said.

The President was referring to the involvement of Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Solomon Islands and other Pacific nations who played a part in keeping peace on Bougainville.

Kabui made his comments in the presence of outgoing Australian High Commissioner David Irvine, New Zealand High Commissioner to PNG Nigel Moore and Fiji's Maria Matavewa, who were in Buka over the weekend for Irvine's final visit as High Commissioner.

"I believe also, that with the cooperation of our regional neighbors, we have broken new ground on the concept of peace keeping without the use of arms. Together, we believe we have been able to set an example for future peace keeping operations,'' he said.

Kabui said a friendly relationship had been developed between Bougainville, New Zealand, Vanuatu and Fiji.

"I know our future links will be strengthened by our shared experiences in managing the Bougainville conflict,'' he said.

"The progress that has been made in the peace process has only been possible because of the combined commitments by all of you. Your presence here today demonstrates the commitment of your governments. I thank all of you on behalf of the people of Bougainville,'' said Kabui.

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

FUTURE OF BOUGAINVILLE "SENSITIVE"

BOUGAINVILLE, Papua New Guinea (August 10, 1999 – Post Courier)---"The key principles that can either make or break the peace process and the rebuilding of Bougainville are the issue of self-government and referendum, or the vote of a political future for the island," according to Bougainville People's Congress President Joseph Kabui.

Kabui said he hoped the new government of Sir Mekere Morauta was not distracted from these fundamental issues through the establishment of the new Bougainville Restoration office.

"I also trust that Sir Mekere is not being poorly advised by those who claim to be experts on Bougainville,'' Kabui said.

He made these comments when commending the outgoing Australian High Commissioner to PNG, David Irvine, for his efforts in bringing the situation on the island to where it is today.

Irvine paid a courtesy visit to Bougainville last week before flying out of Port Moresby for Australia.

"Your decision to make a courtesy call on the Bougainville leaders prior to your departure demonstrates your respect for Bougainville and your government's commitment to the island,'' Kabui told Irvine in Buka.

However, Kabui cautioned Irvine that restoration and redevelopment alone will not bring lasting peace to the island.

He said help being given by groups such as AusAID and other donor groups could be easily destroyed if sensitive issues that apply to the conflict were not kept at the fore of any development aid being provided.

He added that the sensitive issues were self-government and the political future of the island, which he said must be addressed quickly.

Kabui commended Irvine for the professional approach he had often taken on the Bougainville issue and said peace would have been difficult to come by without Irvine's approach.

"The stability and degree of peace and quiet owes a lot to the contribution that you have made in both your official and personal capacity,'' he said. "Today it is appropriate for me to convey to the people of Australia our sincere thanks on behalf of the people of Bougainville, for Australia's contribution to the peace process and for their help towards the reconstruction and rehabilitation program on the island.''

FORWARDED BY: Vikki John, VIKKI@lexsun.law.uts.edu.au

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