BOUGAINVILLE PEACE PROCESS MOVES ANOTHER STEP FORWARD

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By Moresi Ruahma'a

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (June 12, 2000 - The National)---The signing of a communiqué after the fourth round of Bougainville talks on Friday has been hailed as another step forward in the peace process.

All the parties involved in the talks at the Gateway Hotel in the capital expressed great satisfaction.

Mining and Bougainville Affairs Minister, Sir Michael Somare, and co-leaders of the Bougainvillean delegation, Governor John Momis and Bougainville People's Congress President Joseph Kabui, said the signing of the Gateway Communiqué marked another success in the peace process.

"It is one more little step forward,'' said Mr. Kabui.

But he said: "The worse scenario in the peace process is to take steps backwards.''

The communiqué was signed after three weeks of tough negotiations, which seemed to be marred sometimes by frustrations.

Sir Michael, heading the National Government delegation, said: "The meeting was fruitful and very tolerance type of meeting.''

Mr. Kabui added: "To move on we take one step at a time ... and there is a long road ahead and we are aware of it.''

But he said while it was heartening to see a political push on major issues of greater autonomy and referendum, the technical officers from all the parties involved in the peace process were not working hard enough. Mr. Kabui referred to lack of co-operation from the National Government side.

Challenging both the National Government technical officers and members of the Bougainvillean delegation, Mr. Kabui said the officers should translate the issues in place with co-operation for the sake of peace on Bougainville.

"War on Bougainville must be ended once and for all. I don't want to see war,'' said Mr. Kabui.

He also reiterated that he did not want to see "band aid'' solutions to the conflict on the island.

"Real medicine to address the problem ... a political quinine and not aspro,'' he said.

He added that there was no other remedy to address the people's wishes.

Governor Momis, while expressing satisfaction over the signing of the Gateway Communiqué, also reiterated the need to address "root causes" of the Bougainville crisis.

Mr. Momis also warned against attempts to split the leadership on Bougainville. He said if that happened, it would have serious repercussions on the peace process.

Mr. Momis added that the Bougainville leaders' commitment to peace had again been manifested in the signing of the communiqué.

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

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