GOVERNMENT AND BOUGAINVILLE REVOLUTIONARY ARMY WORK ON ARMS DEAL

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UPDATE: December 2, 1999: Members of the Peace Process Consultative Committee (PPCC) yesterday unanimously agreed to a significant breakthrough in addressing the weapons disposal issue for Bougainville.

After several hours of discussion, the parties resolved to ask the United Nations Observer Mission in Bougainville (UNOMB) to draft a plan for secure storage of weapons.

This plan will be the first step for future negotiations to develop a comprehensive agreement on weapons disposal.

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (December 2, 1999 – Post-Courier)---The National Executive Council has been told that the Defense Force and the Bougainville Resistance Forces have been cleared of alleged violations of the Bougainville ceasefire.

Bougainville Affairs Minister Sir Michael Somare has also reported that the National Government will work with the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) to develop plans for removing illegal guns from the community to secure storage.

He has called on all parties involved in the Bougainville peace process to "get on with weapons disposal so that the people can live, move around and express themselves freely.

"It is only when the guns are not only silent but out of reach that the situation in Bougainville can be finally resolved in a proper democratic way,'' Sir Michael said.

Referring to claims made by a BRA spokesman at a previous Peace Process Consultative Committee (PPCC) meeting in October that the ceasefire had been breached, Sir Michael said, "They have been thoroughly investigated by the neutral, regional Peace Monitoring Group (PMG) and the United Nations Observer Mission in Bougainville (UNOMB).

"The investigation showed that the claims could not be verified."

Sir Michael also announced that "the National Government has responded to BRA's continuing refusal to get on with destroying illegal weapons by agreeing to consider how guns can be removed from the community and securely stored.

"The PPCC has asked UNOMB to draw up a draft plan.

"National Government officials are expected to meet soon with the BRA and the BRF to discuss how guns can be securely stored.

"The New Zealand Government has offered, in principle, to provide assistance.''

Sir Michael called on the other parties "to get on with the job so that life in Bougainville can return to normal.''

He has repeated his previous appeals for Francis Ona and his hardcore supports to join in.

The PPCC is chaired by the Director of the UNOMB, Ambassador Noel Sinclair of Guyana.

It consists of representatives of all of the parties involved in the Bougainville peace process, including the National Government and the BRA.

Its role is to see that the Lincoln and Ceasefire Agreements are fully observed.

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

 

AUSTRALIA SAYS IT HAS EXIT STRATEGY FOR BOUGAINVILLE PEACE MONITORS

CANBERRA, Australia (December 2, 1999 – Radio Australia)---Australia says it has a clear exit strategy for peace monitors in Bougainville and is keen to withdraw from the two-year deployment.

But the Defense Department reports there's been only mixed progress on Bougainville, which means the 250 Australian monitors have to stay.

A Defense Deputy Secretary, Hugh White, says that under the Peace Monitoring Group -- the PMG -- the ceasefire and truce have held, but progress toward a long-term solution has been uneven.

"The consistent view of the government on this has been that keen as we are to reduce our commitment to the PMG we're not so keen to do it that we're prepared to take significant risks with the possibility of Bougainville sliding back into the civil war that was such a humanitarian tragedy for ten years until we got there."

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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