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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, November 30) – A PGK10 million [US$3.5 miilion] cheque for the resistance fighters in Bougainville who assisted security forces during the bloody crisis was handed over yesterday.

Bougainville Affairs Minister Sir Peter Barter and Defence Minister Martin Aini flew to Buka yesterday to hand over the much-talked about payment.

At least 4,085 Bougainville Resistance Force members in the region will benefit from the payment.

The cheque was handed over in a small ceremony at the Kuri Village Resort.

The payout to each member of the Bougainville Resistance Fighters (BRF) is expected to begin tomorrow, and would take a week to complete.

Sir Peter thanked the BRF members for their understanding and patience with the National Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) in processing the payment.

"I would like to thank all the veterans from both sides the Bougainville Revolutionary Army and the BRF for their services in providing peace in the region. We fought for our own believes and that was to bring peace to our land, which we have achieved," Sir Peter said.

Sir Peter also urged all BRF members to make good use of the money and support the Government provide basic services into the area.

Defence Minister Aini told them that what they were given was a token of appreciation from the National Government.

He added that the payment should be a stepping stone to strengthening the relationship of both governments, to bring lasting peace and development to the island.

Acting president of the ABG Joseph Watawi thanked the National Government for addressing the concerns of the BRF.

Mr Watawi said it had been a burden to the ABG.

He urged the BRF members to put the money to good use, and not waste the one-off payment.

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