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BUKA, Papua New Guinea (19 Jan 2000 - The National)---The second round of negotiations on the future of Bougainville should be deferred until the National Government is ready with its counter proposal, Bougainville People’s Congress President Joseph Kabui said yesterday.

The meeting is scheduled to start next week, but Mr. Kabui said there is every indication that the government is not prepared.

He said holding negotiations is the only way forward to establish a government for Bougainville, and arrangements that were being worked out following the Supreme Court’s ruling should not be seen as an obstacle to a negotiated political settlement.

"The Bougainville people shall leave these to the National Government to deal with as interim measures to facilitate services according to the law," said Mr. Kabui.

Mr. Kabui said the immediate interest for all Bougainville leaders, including Bougainville Members of Parliament, is to get a counter offer from the National Government on the issues of ‘highest autonomy and a referendum on independence.’

"We want this to be presented by the Government during our second round of political negotiations."

Mr. Kabui said he doubted that the PNG government was ready to present its counter offer.

"Based on the information reaching us, Papua New Guinea does not seem to be ready with a counter offer to our political package presented to Sir Michael Somare and his delegation during the first round negotiations.

"Therefore, we believe it is wise to defer the second round of negotiations to the middle of next month.

"Agreements reached on these important issues will bail out the Government from a possible chaotic situation as reported in the media yesterday," said Mr. Kabui.

Mr. Kabui said he was confident that Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta would act immediately to address the situation so that normal government services continued to flow in Bougainville.

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



By Colin Taimbari

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (January 19, 2000 – Post-Courier)---The establishment of a legal government on Bougainville is awaiting endorsement from the National Executive Council.

A wide range of legal and expert opinion obtained by parties concerned has confirmed that the matter does not need to be taken back to the Supreme Court, as there was enough justification in the court's decision for the NEC to issue the directions.

Bougainville Governor John Momis said they were now awaiting cabinet's approval and directions on the structure and composition of a government on the island.

"I don't think they (cabinet) have made a decision yet,'' he said.

Mr. Momis said cabinet might discuss the matter as soon as Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta returns from holidays.

Mr. Momis said as governor and in consultation with the consultative bodies, a supply bill was passed a few days ago to keep the province financially and administratively afloat.

"The intention was not mischievous, the intention was to maintain the services and the peace process,'' he said.

He was responding to concerns expressed by Central Bougainville MP Sam Akoitai that there was no quorum in the Bougainville Provincial Government to appoint a Provincial Executive Council, so no policy could be endorsed.

He said Mr. Akoitai was part of discussions on putting the interim arrangement in place, and fully understood.

Mr. Momis said the court decision had "merely exposed the political vacuum'' created by the previous government and "I don't think it's time for the Bougainville leadership to play a divisive role.''

He said the workable interim arrangement was legal but the only hiccup was for cabinet to implement the Supreme Court decision. He said hopefully when cabinet sets up the full composition of the government on Bougainville, the provincial budget will be revised in accordance with the Organic Law on Provincial and Local Level Governments.

"That will take some time and I don't think we can prolong the current status where there is a state of confusion and uncertainty on the ground. The sooner we get it in place, the better for all of us,'' he said.

He said there must be an acceptable political regime for Bougainville and to ensure services were provided.

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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