TALKS RESUME TO CLEAR FINAL BOUGAINVILLE HURDLE

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (June 5, 2001 – Post-Courier)---Bougainville autonomy talks will resume this afternoon.

The talks will resume after officials from both the PNG and Bougainville delegations sort out issues that will enable a common position on application of legislation to be passed by the National Parliament.

Leaders adjourned the talks after reaching an impasse as PNG leaders struggled with the demand for double entrenchment, which basically means that they do not want any laws passed by the National Parliament to automatically apply on Bougainville unless the autonomous Bougainville Assembly adopts it or passes enabling legislation.

"We want double entrenchment so that the political settlement remains and won’t be interfered with after it is reached," Bougainville delegation co-leader Joseph Kabui said yesterday.

Mr. Kabui said that in order for long lasting peace to remain, any political settlements reached must remain intact and not be derailed by successive governments.

He said that this is the reason they wanted double entrenchment.

The PNG delegation, which has agreed to autonomous police arrangements and the defense arrangements in this round of talks, is hesitant about handing over this legislative right, which effectively removes direct legislative authority over Bougainville.

The Bougainville delegation had pressed for the double entrenchment provision due to breaches of the Bougainville Agreement, which gave raise to the Organic Law on Provincial Governments (now replaced by the Organic Law on Provincial and Local Level Governments), and the Bougainville Copper Agreement, which gave rise to Bougainville Copper Limited.

Some Bougainvilleans feel that these breaches, which included review of the Bougainville Agreement and the Bougainville Copper Agreement, helped set the stage for the bloody Bougainville crisis.

The move is also a defense against the instability in Papua New Guinea politics, which could result in the un-doing of all that the Bougainville delegation has secured.

The Bougainville leaders, co-led by Governor John Momis and Joseph Kabui, and the National Government delegation, led by Bougainville Affairs Minister Moi Avei, agreed to have the officials deal with the issue and they would meet to consider the issue this afternoon.

"We have got no hidden motives. Our cards are right out on the table. There’s no cards under the table," said Mr. Kabui.

He said this in an attempt to convince the PNG delegation that Bougainville was not subtly trying to secure absolute sovereignty by shutting doors on legislative authority from the National Parliament.

He said that they had mapped out what they want by securing a referendum in 10-15 years that the PNG Government had agreed to. He said that any questions on Bougainville’s future status would be decided then.

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

Provided by Vikki John ( VIKKI@law.uts.edu.au

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