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By Moresi Ruahma'a

ARAWA, Bougainville (August 31, 2000 – The National)---Hundreds of people took to the streets of the tattered township of Arawa, central Bougainville, yesterday in a peaceful protest march to push for greater autonomy and a referendum for independence.

The march was held ahead of the fifth and final round of peace talks in Rabaul, East New Britain, which start next Monday.

A similar march is expected also next week in Buka town, north Bougainville.

Women groups will lead the march.

The date of the protest march in Buka is yet to be formally scheduled but the office of North Solomons Governor John Momis said the purpose of the march is basically to tell the people to stop fighting ... that there must not be any fighting after the peace talks.''

A petition was delivered to Mr. Momis and Bougainville People's Congress President Joseph Kabui during the march in Arawa.

The details of the petition were not clear yesterday.

The petition will be handed over to the National Government at the leaders’ talks in Rabaul.

"Yes, there was a march today at one o'clock and the people gave a petition to John Momis and Mr. Kabui,'' said a source from the United Nations Observer Mission in Arawa.

Speaking on a satellite telephone, she told The National that "people supported the peace talks and want a fruitful outcome.''

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

Provided by Vikki John (

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