BOUGAINVILLE REBELS SAY PANGUNA MINE TO STAY CLOSED

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Feb. 6) - The abandoned Panguna copper/gold mine will remain closed for many years, says Me’ekamui Defence Force commander Chris Uma.

Mr. Uma says he is frustrated that people including politicians known to him have been using his name to push for the reopening of the mine owned by Bougainville Copper Limited.

"The reopening of the mine will only renew bloodshed which none of us wants," he said.

"MPs (Members of Parliament) can not talk about reopening the Panguna mine themselves as they are not authorized to talk about it." Uma also said that the PNG

[PIR editor’s note: The Me’ekamui Defense Force was led by the late Francis Ona, the reclusive rebel leader who sparked a decade-long civil war on Papua New Guinea's Bougainville Island between 1988 and 1990. Ona complained of environmental damage caused by the Australian-owned Panguna copper and gold mine, where Mr Ona worked as a surveyor.]

Government should not talk about mineral rights over Bougainville as they would never have any rights over minerals on Bougainville.

"What are they talking about under the constitution of Papua New Guinea?" he asked.

Uma has been quiet doing his own business and he said many people had been using the name Me’ekamui to do "silly things such as causing criminal activities" which he said was not condoned by the Me’ekamui Defence Force.

He said he did not support moves by a MP and former Bougainville Revolutionary Army fighters to start a Me’ekamui party that would challenge President Joseph Kabui for the president position during the next Autonomous Bougainville Government elections.

"When they start political parties and I am not in that (party), the party is not endorsed by M’ekamui," he said. "I am not with U–Vistract (fast money scheme), I never fired guns and what happened in Buin and Arawa (lawlessness) is not by Me’ekamui.

"People should not just use Me’ekamui name for their own selfish gains."

He said he was put in authority by the late Francis Ona and he would not tolerate any misuse of the name Me’ekamui by people who had their own personal interest. Uma said people with other motives were also trying to fly him to Australia and he advised them that if they had other interests, he would not support them.

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