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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (September 30, 1999 – The National)---Bougainville People's Congress President Joseph Kabui has welcomed Parliament’s decision to extend the suspension of the North Solomons provincial government for an additional six months.

Mr. Kabui warned, however, that the road to reaching a negotiated political settlement would not be easy for all parties involved in the Bougainville peace process during that period.

"It will be a period of new challenges when the leaders move into serious negotiations on key political and social issues, some of which were stressed by Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta in his address on Bougainville yesterday. Let the leaders deal with these issues on the negotiating table," he said.

Mr. Kabui said cooperation, honesty and transparency of the parties would enable them to deal with the challenges and sensitivities of the issues that lay ahead during the next six months.

"Negotiations that are based on these values will inevitably set the benchmark for successful resolution of certain key issues pertinent to moving the peace process closer towards a closer political settlement," Mr. Kabui said.

He said the BPC would negotiate from the perspectives established by the Hutjena Minutes.

"In the meantime, we humbly accept Parliament's decision to vote for an extension of the suspension of the provincial government. I thank the Government and the Opposition members for their overwhelming support."

Mr. Kabui said Parliament's vote was also a vote of confidence, firstly on the peace process, and secondly on the outstanding work done by the National Investigation Committee.

He said the report by NIC reflects the thinking of the majority of Bougainvilleans regarding the suspension, which Parliament had confirmed.

"I have noted the Government's conditions set out in Sir Mekere's speech in support of the extension.

"I support the call for unity among the Bougainville leadership. That unity exists within the Congress as a representative body mandated to spearhead a series of negotiations on behalf of the people."

He said BPC shall be asked to meet early next month to look at the Government's position regarding extension and also discuss what needs to be done within the six months.

Mr. Kabui thanked the Bougainville delegation present in Parliament and contributions made by the PMG and UN representatives on the island.

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



PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (September 30, 1999 – Post-Courier)---The provisional suspension and extension of the Bougainville Provincial Government for another six months was confirmed by a unanimous vote of Parliament yesterday.

Members of Parliament confirmed and adopted the report by the National Investigation Committee, 74 votes to nil.

They then confirmed the provisional suspension by the same number of votes, with all four Bougainville MPs voting for the extension, which comes into effect tomorrow.

Bougainville Regional MP John Momis had earlier attacked the initial suspension by the Skate Government, claiming it was "absolutely illegal and unconstitutional.''

Parliament was then adjourned to November 30.

Debate was not long, leaving a lot of frustrated MPs, including former Bougainville Affairs Minister and Central Bougainville MP Sam Akoitai.

MPs who had the chance to express their views all agreed it was time the Bougainville MPs put aside their differences and that this suspension should be the last. Infrastructure must be implemented and youths and separatist groups carrying guns must be made to return all firearms, they said.

Mr. Skate said the Bougainvillians should have a chance to say what they want and assist where possible.

Mr. Akoitai later told the Post-Courier that the suspension should have been for at least nine months.

He was disappointed he could not speak in debate. Having just returned from visiting Bougainville, he would have spoken on the progress and wishes of his people. Mr. Akoitai said the situation had to be put right before a proper government could be established on Bougainville.

He agreed that the sticking issue would always be the guns floating around in the hands of youths. Mr. Akoitai said all warring factions, including the BRA, were ready to negotiate.

Mr. Akoitai said he had yet to see hard evidence of government monies being pumped into Bougainville at the cost of other provinces, as claimed by MPs.

Without such evidence, he would not allow re-opening of the Panguna mine.

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

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