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LETTER TO EDITOR of The National Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea


October 15, 2001

It is a lot of nonsense to say that Francis Ona is living as a recluse up in Guava near Panguna, as claimed by the deputy vice-president of the Bougainville People's Congress (BPC), Thomas Anis (The National, Oct. 8).

Mr. Ona is not hiding or in the protection of Mekamui soldiers. Rather, he is following developments on the island and nationwide with a great deal of interest. He is very aware of the ongoing Bougainville peace process and the involvement of Bougainvilleans from all sectors of the community. He is involved in many matters with a lot of people. Mr. Ona after all knows what the mission, the objective and the goal of the Bougainville people are and it is in his interest to keep a pulse on things.

Mr. Ona has never opposed the peace processes nor has he disrupted any of the negotiations started by BPC under Joseph Kabui, starting with the Burnham meetings in New Zealand.

Just as Mr. Anis spends nearly all of his time between Buka and Port Moresby living out of hotels, dining and wining in restaurants and sitting behind TV screens, Mr. Ona spends his time making gardens, raising pigs and chickens, helping people to build houses in the village, promoting conservation and environmental protection as well as attending to the human and spiritual needs of his extended family and others from Haku and other ethnic groups from many other areas of Bougainville who go up to see him.

Mr Ona leads an independent lifestyle based on self-sufficiency and communal egalitarianism. He is dedicated to seeing that his people do not become overly dependent on handouts and claims on the public purse for personal benefits.

On the other hand, we have so-called provincial leaders who have become so dependent for their livelihood on the provincial government. Much of this continues to result in the provincial coffers in Buka running hollow and dried out before the people ever get to see much needed goods and services. What our leadership developed is a consuming passion for money and travel, much like their national counterparts. Similar to PNG politics, on Bougainville we are paying our leaders for titles and egos rather than for any tangible changes and benefits for the betterment of the people.

If Mr Ona is a recluse in the Crown Prince Range he can't very well be blamed for the actions and decisions of the Haku people on Buka Island. These are the same people who rejected Mr. Anis when Bougainville had BPC elections not so long ago. This, by the way, raises the pertinent question: Where then did he get this mandate to be where he is today?

Mr Anis is a signatory to the Bougainville Peace Agreement signed with much fanfare in Arawa more than a month ago. So far there isn't a semblance of any change to the people's lives.

To the masses it almost seems our leaders are just about to spit the dummy. In other words, it is either they are no longer interested or they do not know what to do next.

While they continue to enjoy the privileges and life in office, our people are still stuck with an inefficient and impotent administration. The Bougainville Interim Provincial Government (BIPG) and BPC members appear to be working well together but beneath the facial grins there are competing and burning desires and envy for power.

My advice to the BIPG, BPC and to Mr Anis is this: You are the guys in authority; you are the guys that are on the payroll. You are the lot that is promising Bougainvilleans the whole world through the Peace Agreement. The expectations of the whole of Bougainville are upon you to deliver. It is time to stop talking and start leading!

Steven Domangtoro Section 17 Arawa North Solomons

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

Provided by Vikki John [email protected]" target="_blank">([email protected]

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