BANNED BOUGAINVILLE NATIVE DENIED RESIDENCY

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, December 5) – Papua New Guinea's Foreign Affairs Department has refused to grant residency to long term Bougainville resident Mike Foster.

In a letter to the Bougainville Restoration Office (BPRO), the department stated that restrictions had been lifted on Mr Foster’s colleagues, Martin Miriori and Moses Havini, but that the ban on Mr Foster re-entering the country had not been lifted.

His sympathisers claim this was a direct violation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement clause 331 on Amnesty and pardon.

Mr Foster’s family, originally from Australia, came to Papua New Guinea in 1921 and had remained through the Second World War and the Bougainville crises.

He was born in Bougainville in 1948.

He was the pan Bougainville conference co-coordinating officer and representative to the United Nations for the Bougainville Interim Government during the crisis and was later appointed conflict resolution manager for the Bougainville People’s Congress.

He is currently personal attaché to president Joseph Kabui as a member of the Autonomy Implementation and Special Mining Force headed by Kapeatu Puaria.

Despite petitions from Mr Kabui, the chief administrator, the council of chiefs and elders, the department has refused to lift the ban placed on Mr Foster during the crisis or to issue a long-term resident visa which was agreed last year.

Speaking from Buka yesterday, Mr Foster said: "I feel like I have been kicked in the stomach by a mule. Who do they think will look after my children? Who will look after my land?"

He said that he had done his duty throughout the crisis to his clan and to the people of Bougainville and said he would continue to do so.

He said the department had given no reason for their decision so it was nothing short of racism.

"I have written to Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare asking him to intercede on my behalf."

Acting Bougainville government president Joseph Watawi has taken the matter up with Minister for Bougainville Affairs Sir Peter Barter.

Sir Peter had personally undertaken to pursue the matter on behalf of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG).

"I am confident that this will be resolved. In the meantime, I think it is best that I leave so as not to overstay my current visa and further complicate matters for myself and the ABG," Mr Foster said.

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