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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, April 30) – Disgruntled Kananam landowners in Madang Province of Papua New Guinea have rejected the signing of a memorandum of understanding with RD Tuna Canners and the Madang Provincial Government.

[PIR Editors Note: Madang Province is located on the central north coast of Papua New Guinea’s mainland peninsula.]

At a meeting held on Sunday, the landowners said they will not sign the agreement which was scheduled for the parties to sign on Wednesday at the Madang Provincial Government headquarters. The landowners said in a letter to Provincial Administrator Joseph Dorpar that a lot of their concerns were "omitted or written off" in the memorandum of understanding which was prepared by Acting State Solicitor George Minjihau.

"The MOU shows that many of our concerns have been omitted or written off which we will never tolerate. It is also a self picture of conspiracy between the Government and the company," the letter alleged.

Last month, the landowners threatened to block the Vidar Passage that is used by RD Tuna Canners fishing fleet after alleging that there was a serious case of sex trade going on in the area between the company’s workers and local women. They also raised concerns with the company of the environmental damage done to the Vidar Passage and spin-off businesses which were supposed to be wholly owned by the landowners.

The landowners presented the petition to Chief Secretary Joshua Kalinoe and his government delegation last month, outlining their concerns and demands.

The landowners also said the memorandum of understanding showed a lack of transparency by the Government in addressing their concerns. They said these concerns had been raised in their petition and they would fight until all their demands are addressed.

"The community meeting came to a resolution that this MOU will not be signed until all our concerns are satisfactorily addressed," the landowners stated in the letter.

May 1, 2006

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