SINGIROK PRAISED AS REAL HERO OF BOUGAINVILLE

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (March 24, 2000 – Post-Courier)---National Parliament Speaker Bernard Narokobi has hailed dismissed PNG Defense Force commander Jerry Singirok as the hero of the peace process on Bougainville.

He said it was General Singirok who called for an end to violence and killings when he exposed and led the rebellion against the hiring of Sandline mercenaries in 1997 to quell the Bougainville crisis with military firepower.

General Singirok was dismissed from office by a leadership tribunal this week on grounds of misconduct in office for accepting bribes from a foreign military hardware supplier.

Mr. Narokobi paid tribute to the former commander while speaking at a dinner for the Bougainville delegation to the peace talks in Port Moresby on Wednesday.

He described the evolving of the Bougainville peace process as one of paradoxes.

"Tonight is a great paradox. The man who said enough to violence, Jerry Singirok, has just been dismissed from public office," Mr. Narokobi said.

"If really there was any peace on Bougainville, that is the man we should take our hats off to. He almost single-handedly said 'No' to Sandline. I really think that in spite of the hardships that he got, he's the one and I would like to salute him."

Of the other paradoxes, Mr. Narokobi said:

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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