PNG Defence Force To Take Part In Bougainville Peace-Building

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Agreement between ABG, PNGDF, Ex-Combatants being finalized

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Dec. 3, 2014) – The PNG Defence Force, the Autonomous Bougainville Government and Bougainville Ex-Combatants are now in the process of formalising an agreement to engage soldiers in peace-building and civic efforts on the island.

High-level discussions were held by the three parties, with all three expressing their commitment to the initiatives outlined in the agreement.

ABG’s director for peace, unity and reconciliation Nick Peniai said the "missing link" in the Bougainville peace process was the PNGDF as it was a party to the crisis and should therefore be part of the overall efforts to restore normalcy and services in Bougainville.

Peniai said after the agreement was signed, the PNGDF would be engaged in joint operations with Ex-Combatants, conducting surveillance work in Bougainville waters.

He said the joint operation would be crucial in rebuilding trust between all parties, especially after the Bougainville Crisis, and would be the first practical step towards national reconciliation.

Col Walter Enuma said the PNGDF was committed to the peace process on Bougainville and he commended the ABG for taking the initiative to invite the PNGDF to be part of the peace and restoration process. Enuma acknowledged the support of prominent Ex-Combatants like Thomas Tari and Ishmael Toroama, who had shown maturity and come out to show their support for reconciliation with the PNGDF.

Enuma said the reconciliation process between the PNGDF and Ex-Combatants had already begun as demonstrated by Ex-Combatants in Buin, led by Tari in a small traditional ceremony where pigs were exchanged and traditional spears broken.

Enuma was the leader of a small contingent of PNGDF soldiers and navy who were in Bougainville last week.

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