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Action Alert - Bougainville Peace Accord
Peace Movement AotearoaPO Box 9314, Wellington. Tel (04) 382 8129, fax (04) 382 8173, email@example.com
Issued 21 December 1998
There has been a set back in the implementation of the Bougainville Peace Accord as reported by Joan Macdonald who recently attended the Sydney conference on this topic.
Over the past year, the New Zealand government has been involved in endeavouring to broker a peace accord to bring an end to the conflict in Bougainville, first with a meeting at Burnham and then the Lincoln Agreement.
Part of this agreement is that Bougainville is to establish an interim Bougainville Reconciliation Government to begin on 1 January 1999 and to hold elections on the island in June 1999. For this to happen the Papua New Guinea government was supposed to pass enabling legislation - but it failed to do so during the last session of the 1998 parliament in early December. Furthermore, Bill Skate (PNG Prime Minister) then announced that the PNG parliament will not sit again until July of next year. This has been a tremendous disappointment to the people of Bougainville.
Since the PNG announcement, leaders in Bougainville have released a statement saying they will form a People's Congress by the end of this month to restart the now stalled peace process with the PNG government. The People's Congress will be committed to maintaining the ceasefire and working towards ending the 10 year rebellion for secession.
Bill Skate has warned against the setting up of the Congress saying it was not possible to go against the PNG constitution in such a manner. On the other hand, Alexander Downer (Australian Foreign Minister) has said the establishment of the Bougainville People's Congress is a positive move which shows that the failure to pass the constitutional amendment is not a fatal setback to the peace process. It is not clear why he feels this is a positive move when it is supported only by one side in the conflict, the other side (PNG) being clearly opposed to it.
What you can do
There is an urgent need to lobby both Don McKinnon and Alexander Downer to put pressure on the PNG government to keep its commitment to pass the enabling legislation as soon as possible, to move forward on those things already agreed as part of the way to peace for the people of Bougainville, and most especially to avoid actions which will create further conflict.
Contact details :
* Don McKinnon, Minister Of Foreign Affairs And Trade, fax 04 471 1444; firstname.lastname@example.org or write to him at Parliament Buildings, Wellington (no stamp needed).
* Alexander Downer, Foreign Minister, fax 00 61 2 6273 4112 or write to him at Parliament House, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2600, Australia.
* Geoff Miller, Australian High Commissioner, Australian High Commission, PO Box 4036, Wellington; fax (04) 498 7135.