BOUGAINVILLE TALKS CONTINUE OVER AUTONOMY AND REFERENDUM

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By Veronica Hatutasi

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (October 20, 2000 - The Independent/PINA Nius Online)---Bougainville and national government negotiators have yet to reach an agreement on key issues pertaining to autonomy and an independence referendum and, as a result, they are still meeting in Port Moresby.

The Independent understands that some issues have yet to be agreed on between the two groups. Until such time this is accomplished, the technical officers and leaders of both groups will continue their deliberations here.

This is the second week of the meeting, which was to have ended last week with the signing of an agreement to take place in Arawa. However, this has not been the case.

According to the Office of Bougainville Affairs (OBA), after an agreement is reached and vital documents and understandings pieced together, the signing will be done in Arawa in order for the Bougainville Revolutionary Army hierarchical leader, Francis Ona, to also partake in the signing process.

Technical officers and the core group representing leaders of all the Bougainville factions, headed by Bougainville People’s Congress President Joseph Kabui and Governor John Momis and his officials, are in Port Moresby.

They are meeting with the relevant government groups working on issues pertaining to Bougainville.

Bougainville Affairs Minister Sir Michael Somare is ill and is in Australia so Planning and Implementation Minister Moi Avei is acting on his behalf and leading the national government delegation in the deliberations.

The Office of Bougainville Affairs said the ongoing discussions are looking at the allocation of powers and functions, finance, resources and fiscal accountability associated with the autonomous government and the referendum issue as well.

However, both groups have yet to come to an agreement on certain issues.

The Office of Bougainville Affairs said that the autonomy proposals are already in place and this meeting is actually heading somewhere.

He said there is a likely possibility that the meeting would be postponed for a week to give ample time to both sides to iron out issues and draw up a proper agreement, which will then be signed in Arawa.

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

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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