NO QUORUM IN BOUGAINVILLE PROVINCIAL ASSEMBLY

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BUKA, Papua New Guinea (January 17, 2000 – Post-Courier)---Governance on Bougainville is in mega trouble following the recent Supreme Court ruling to have the Organic Law on Provincial and Local Level Government apply on Bougainville.

This is because no local level government member was elected in the 1997 election. Bougainville then was still under transitional government arrangements as a result of a constitutional amendment and did not have to comply.

The result is that while Bougainvillea legally comes under the Organic Law, the four national parliamentarians are the only provincial assembly members. John Momis, as Bougainville Regional MP, is automatically the governor, and the other members are Sam Akoitai (Central Bougainville), Michael Ogio (North Bougainville) and Michael Laimo (South Bougainville).

There is no quorum to appoint a Provincial Executive Council (PEC) so no policies can be endorsed.

That, in turn, means no money can be spent as the PEC cannot endorse a provincial budget and there is no provincial assembly quorum to pass it.

The issue came to light following reaction by Bougainville leaders to a premature declaration by a key Government Member of Parliament, Jimson Sauk, in Canberra that Bougainville would soon enjoy autonomy.

The Bougainville Peoples Congress Leader Joseph Kabui has threatened to boycott the upcoming talks if Sir Michael Somare's attendance would merely be to "brief" Bougainville leaders on autonomy rather than for negotiation. This threat is fueled by the lack of governmental development activity on the island province.

Former Bougainvillea Affairs Minister Mr. Akoitai has called on Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta to discipline his ministers or, at the very least, know what they are going to say in public forums on sensitive issues.

"The Bougainville Crisis has caused a loss of 15,000 lives -- both Bougainvilleans and soldiers and policemen -- and it is not settled yet,'' said Mr. Akoitai, adding that continued sensitivity was vital.

He said that there is an allowance in Section 105 of the Organic Law for provinces to use one third of the total budget from the previous year, but even that cannot be accessed, as it requires PEC endorsement.

"Everywhere you turn, there's no option. There's a brick wall,'' he said, adding that fear of contempt of the Supreme Court is a key binding factor in creative, legal solutions.

He suggested that the national Government fast track the revival of the Bougainville Transitional Government through a constitutional amendment to remedy the situation.

That will require several sittings of Parliament.

"This problem has not been created by bureaucrats or the Organic Law; it's created by politicians. So it must be remedied by politicians as quickly as possible,'' he said.

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

 

BOUGAINVILLEANS IN SOLOMONS WARNED TO BEHAVE

BUKA, Papua New Guinea (January 17, 2000 – Radio Australia)---The President of the Bougainville Peoples Congress, Joseph Kabui, has warned Bougainvilleans residing in the neighboring Solomon Islands that they must abide by the law.

Mr. Kabui's comments follow reports that a number of Bougainvilleans were involved in a recent string of criminal activities in the Solomons capital, Honiara, including a bank robbery and hijacking vehicles.

Mr. Kabui has appealed to the Bougainville community in the Solomons to be law-abiding citizens.

And, he has urged all Bougainville leaders there to ensure that those who persistently breach law and order be sent back to Bougainville.

Many Bougainvilleans settled in the Solomon Islands to escape the decade-long Bougainville civil war.

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

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