NEGOTIATIONS ON BOUGAINVILLE'S POLITICAL FUTURE RESUME

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (November 22, 2000 – Radio Australia)---Negotiations on Bougainville's political future have resumed in Port Moresby after coming close to collapse.

Bougainville leaders threatened to pull out of the talks over the weekend, frustrated by slow progress, with the process now at least two months behind schedule.

Some hard-line Bougainvilleans say they're giving up on the process.

The negotiations are focusing on arrangements to grant greater autonomy to Bougainville.

Bougainville leader Joseph Kabui yesterday spoke of Bougainville as a nation within Papua New Guinea, with its own currency, police, tax laws and international trade powers.

(For additional information, see: Unhappy Bougainville Revolutionary Army Goes Home; Bougainville Talks At "Break Point")

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

 

SOMARE ASSURES BOUGAINVILLE LEADERS OF GOVERNMENT'S COMMITMENT

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (November 21, 2000 – The National)---Bougainville Affairs Minister Sir Michael Somare yesterday met with the Bougainville leaders in Port Moresby and assured them of the Government's commitment to the peace process.

He met with the leaders yesterday afternoon after reports that the Bougainville delegation threatened to abandoned the talks and "return to the bush."

The meeting as attended by Bougainville Governor John Momis, Bougainville People's Congress president Joseph Kabui, Bougainville MPs Sam Akoitai, Mining Minister Michael Laimo and Deputy Prime Minister Michael Ogio and the rest of Bougainville delegation.

Sir Michael, who is also Foreign Affairs Minister, said the National Government would not be swayed from its commitment. He said the Morauta Government's commitment would not change, and that is to a peaceful solution to the issue of Bougainville.

He admitted that there are differences between the two sides and asked for patience to see that peace by peaceful means could be achieved so that children could go back to school and women could move freely.

"We have a challenge ahead. The people of Bougainville are looking at you leaders and the people of Papua New Guinea are looking at us MPs on how we can find peace on Bougainville," Sir Michael said.

"We can have differences or arguments but there should be flexibility."

Sir Michael also assured the leaders that some proposed laws are in place but there should also be an agreement between the two groups before he could take them to Cabinet.

"I can't take it to Cabinet if we have differences," he said.

He said that agreements on arms disposal, autonomy and referendum should be worked on and an agreement reached before proposed legislation is taken to Cabinet.

Sir Michael said the Prime Minister had made an undertaking to recall Parliament during its long adjournment to address the Bougainville issue.

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

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