BOUGAINVILLE MEET SEEKS FREEDOM VOTE

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By Moresi Ruahma'a

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (September 21, 1999 – The National)---A speedy political settlement for North Solomons Province is one of the major issues that Bougainvilleans want to see sorted out, a meeting held at the weekend here revealed.

The meeting was conducted by the investigation committee and set up to gauge views from the Bougainvilleans whether the suspension of the Bougainville provincial government (BPG) should be lifted or left to continue.

The meeting was told that the National Government should not delay resolving the political future of Bougainville.

Self-determination and independence for the island was still the underlying issue, speakers told the investigation committee at the Islander Travelodge.

They were of the general consensus that whether the BPG is reinstated or when Bougainville comes under the reform system, self-determination and independence for the island should be addressed by the Government.

Conducting a referendum on the issue is the only way for fairness and justice to be done, the meeting was told on Saturday.

Views were expressed that the Bougainville Peoples' Congress (BPC) should be legalized to continue to negotiate with the Government for future political settlement of the island.

Options were also expressed that a total new interim entity should be set up to continue to negotiate with the Government.

There were opinions that because Bougainville was not part and parcel of the reforms it should never come under the system.

In reference to the BPC, the meeting was told it was set up under the Lincoln Agreement to continue the peace progress and negotiations with the Government for a political settlement for the island.

"A quick solution must be found for the future of Bougainville,'' said prominent Bougainvillean Simon Kenehe.

Mr. Kenehe blamed the Government for delay tactics and failing to implement a number of agreements reached over the years.

Former premier of the North Solomons Leo Hannett told the meeting that immediate measures should be taken by the Government to address the political future of Bougainville.

He warned that more serious trouble would arise if the Government does not resolve the situation now.

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

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