COME HOME PLEA TO BOUGAINVILLEANS IN SOLOMONS

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By Walter Nalangu Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation

YAREN, Nauru (August 21, 2001 - PINA Nius Online)---Papua New Guinea Deputy Prime Minister Michael Ogio has appealed to Bougainvilleans still living in the Solomon Islands to return to Bougainville and help with the peace process.

Speaking in Nauru, where he represented his country at the Pacific Islands Forum summit, Mr. Ogio said his government is aware some Bougainvilleans are living in the Solomon Islands illegally.

He said the Bougainvilleans are Papua New Guinea citizens, and they must respect the sovereignty of the Solomon Islands, by returning home.

He said there was nothing to fear, as the peace process is progressing very well, and the people on Bougainville have returned to living their normal lives.

Bougainvilleans have close ties with the Solomons’ neighboring Western Province. Many Bougainvilleans crossed into the Solomon Islands during the deadly secessionist conflict on Bougainville.

Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands forces clashed near the border during the height of a Papua New Guinea Defense Force blockade of Bougainville, amid claims of sympathy and support for the Bougainvilleans by Solomon Islanders.

At the time, there also were reports of Papua New Guinea military incursions into the Solomons.

Mr. Ogio said a peace agreement on Bougainville will be signed shortly, but he could not confirm a date.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: *" target="_blank">http://www.pinanius.org* 

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