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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (January 25, 2002 – Post-Courier)---Thank you for not forcing us to ask ourselves what if the Bougainville bills are not passed.

That was how Bougainville Peoples Congress Vice President James Tanis thanked MPs for their overwhelming support in the votes for the two Bougainville bills on Wednesday.

"I want to say thanks to leaders of PNG that we have not been asked that question," he said, at a joint Bougainville Leaders press conference in the Granville Motel, Port Moresby called to thank MPs for their votes.

He was with Bougainville Governor John Momis and co-leader, BPC President Joe Kabui, Leitana Council of Chiefs Chairman Joel Banam, and Thomas Anis.

"The leadership is committed to pursuing reconciliation to consolidate the unity that’s on the ground ... in assisting the ex-combatants to advance and progress the weapons disposal," said Mr Tanis.

"The leadership is also committed to assist the Government of PNG to make sure all of us maintain the international credibility that we have built for ourselves in this peace process ... (and) to keep on pursuing and looking for ways to engage and involve those that are not yet on the peace process," he added.

Governor Momis said that they have been re-assured that the PNG Government is committed to the peace agreement and that PNG leaders are capable of rising up collectively for greater good when democracy, fair play and justice demands it.

Mr. Kabui described the successful vote as a "victory for peace" and "a win-win situation for the PNG Government and Bougainville" after the "momentary hiccups" of the last-minute amendment.

An "absolutely elated" Mr. Banam said that they can now lay the in-fighting to rest and jointly work together towards a better Bougainville.

Mr. Anis said that the Bougainville Peace Agreement was still political and there was dire need for that to be backed by legislation and Wednesday’s decision "was a very responsible decision."

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

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