Bougainville Mining News : BCL proposes a re-opening mine start up by 2020

panguna

  ” Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL), under a new regime, is keen on re-opening the Panguna mine with promises of more equitable sharing of wealth with landowners and the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

Company chairman Robert Burns was in Buka last week and met with Bougainville cabinet ministers and landowner groups to put forward BCL’s proposals for start-up by year 2020.”

Panguna talks re-open Source: Post Courier
Date: March 01,2017, 01:39 am BY SEBASTIAN HAKALITS Image Axel Mosi

According to BCL’s proposals on full operations from 2020 and beyond, it will inject US$350 million (K1 billion) a year to the Bougainville Government.

BCL has projected to pay about US$25 million (about K70 million a year) to the nine landowner associations to distribute among themselves.

The details of the BCL forward plans for Panguna were made at a presentation by the company recently.

BCL operated the Panguna mine for 18 years as a subsidiary company of Rio Tinto until it was shut down by the infamous Bougainville crisis from 1988 to 1999.

But the company was under a new regime after Rio Tinto left and during the process, off-loaded its majority of 53 per cent shares, of which a majority of 36 per cent belongs to Bougainvilleans, to the ABG.

The National Government owns 19 per cent, Panguna landowners 17 per cent and the rest other shareholders in Europe.

Mr Burns said in his presentation that BCL would engage with the ABG and landowners to fast-track and remove the impending issues to “create something very special for Bougainville”.

He said the company was ready and very much interested and committed to access Panguna and carry out the activities of feasibility and environmental studies before re-developing the mine. But he insisted that the ABG must support the company in its endeavours to remove any impediments so that it can have easy access to the Panguna mine area.

Article 2

Source: Post Courier
Date: March 01,2017, 01:39 am

BY SEBASTIAN HAKALITS

BOUGAINVILLE Minister for Minerals and Energy Resources Robin Wilson says Panguna mine is the single largest project that can move Bougainville forward.

Mr Wilson said it would ease financial hardships for landowners of Panguna and Bougainville, therefore, it was in their interest to re-open the mine. He was speaking during the presentation by Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) of its future plans for Panguna mine. Mr Wilson urged the landowners re-open, adding. “you have the veto power and whatever decision you make must be for the good of the whole of Bougainville”.

“Let’s have one voice and move forward,” Mr Wilson said at the BCL presentation that was later graced with the initial payment of K5 million to two landowner associations in outstanding 1989 to 1990 compensation payments.

The other seven groups will be paid after completing the compiling and verifying names of families. They will be

Comments

Peter Quodling

With all due respect to the original author Article 1 above

there is a glaring technical inaccuracy in this.

Firstly, There was no “new Regime” at RIO that saw it divest it’s sharing holding.

Secondly, it didn’t “offload” them, it gifted them equally between GovPNG and ABG. and 36% is not a majority.

Thirdly the statement “The National Government owns 19 per cent, Panguna landowners 17 per cent and the rest other shareholders in Europe.” is wrong – the national government no longer owns just the 19% it was originally gifted, It now owns 36.4% of the BCL Shareholding, exactly the same as the ABG.

Fourthly, The Panguna Landowners do not own 17% at all (there might be some residual token individual shareholdings),

Fifthly. “the rest other shareholders in Europe” – well, that is just as wrong – while there are some vocal European shareholders that made some speculative investments in BCL stock, they certainly do not comprise the “rest” in fact, in the top 20 shareholders (a matter of public record) the lion’s share are institutional investors (JP Morgan, Citicorp, HSBC, ABN-AMRO), with the only significant European holding being a german chap, with a shareholding of about 1.1M shares (or 0.29% of the total)

There are issues in relation to the ownership/equity and operation of mining operations that could be structured to give the people (and government) of bougainville significant leverage moving forward in this. I have offered (through channels) to consult to Pres Momis on this, but he chooses to ignore.

Bougainville News : President Momis returns to work on the threshold of the Referendum

 

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We are looking to develop our education and health facilities and develop other infrastructure on Bougainville but we must not overlook our responsibility and that is the implementation of the BPA through credible means,

“Undeniably, we have problems on Bougainville but we have also achieved a lot since the inception of the ABG; we now have the power to develop our own education policies, our health policies and others such as finance and mining,”

The people of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville have a dream to create a new socio-economic political and moral order as they stand on the threshold of the Referendum.

ABG President Grand Chief Dr John Momis said that dream is within the reach of the people of Bougainville but they first have the responsibility to implement the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

“I welcome the President’s return as it provides added momentum to our work to reform the public service

President Momis has made it clear that he considers reform of the public service to be a critical priority for ensuring that Bougainville delivers on the Bougainville Peace Agreement and the expectations of our people,”

Chief Secretary to the ABG Joseph Nobetau has welcomed ABG President Grand Chief Dr John Momis following a period of leave, announcing that he is energized and ready to continue on the path to reform in the ABG. See Press release 2 below

NOTE : ABG President Grand Chief Dr John Momis has thanked the people of Bougainville and Papua New Guinea who had him in their prayers during his time in the hospital in the Philippines.

The President’s doctors have given him a clean bill of health and he said he was ready to get back to working with the people as they prepare for the upcoming referendum. Picture is the President with journalists during his first press conference on last Friday after his return the previous day.

1.Press Release

President Momis said the problem the ABG faces was a lack of technical capacity to develop these powers and policies to.

But Momis is also very optimistic that Bougainville will thrive as the autonomous region moves into the future.

“Unity is the essence of our success and these problems are not impossible to overcome; our unity does not mean uniformity, it must be an all-inclusive engagement of all Bougainvilleans who must have a say on our political future come the referendum,” Momis said.

Momis added that Bougainville determining its future must also include a future for development.

Momis also cautioned that people must be realistic of their expectations of the outcome of the referendum.

“Everything depends on how hard we work to achieve a favourable outcome of the referendum; we cannot dream of the impossible while we remain complacent and not work hard for it,” he said.

“We must have faith and own the process of the referendum so that we can legitimately own the outcome that is credible and excepted by all Bougainvilleans and respected by the international community,” he said.

“I must remind you all that in today’s globalized community we must refrain from alienating ourselves international community such as the United Nations who will play an important role at the time of the referendum,” he said.

Momis further made a call to all Bougainvilleans not to deviate from the principles of the Bougainville Peace Agreement and to follow it as the guideline to achieving its ultimate political future.

2. Press release Nobetau welcomes Momis

Chief Secretary to the ABG Joseph Nobetau has welcomed ABG President Grand Chief Dr John Momis following a period of leave, announcing that he is energized and ready to continue on the path to reform in the ABG.

Mr Nobetau said that the President’s return is important as it provides continued stability and leadership for Bougainville.

In consulting with the President Nobetau said that he made it clear that he was disappointed with some aspects of recent progress and that he wants to see all members of the executive rise to the challenge of progressing reform to ensure that Bougainville continues on the path to autonomy ahead of the upcoming referendum.

“It is clear that the President maintains very strong views regarding the need for enhancing governance and discipline across the public service. As Chief Secretary, I stand ready to work with my colleagues to heal any division that may have occurred during his absence so that we can deliver on the President’s very clear expectations”, Mr Nobetau said.

President Momis has been a constant and unifying figure throughout Bougainville’s history and has played a critical leadership role in progressing the Bougainville Peace Agreement and leading Bougainville on the path to autonomy.

“As Chief Secretary I am committed to delivering on the Presidents vision for reform. Now, more than ever before, it is essential that we consolidate our status as an autonomous territory as we approach the proposed referendum date”, Mr Nobetau said.

Mr Nobetau indicated that over the coming weeks he would be providing further updates on this important work and encouraged the public service to unite to address the many challenges ahead.

 

Bougainville News: Creation of #Bougainville Referendum Commission Part 2

 

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The independence of the BRC does not mean the commission works alone of the two governments.

“The two governments will continue to play a crucial role on agreeing on the framework on important matters as the options available in the referendum, security and funding issues,”

The ABG’s Vice President and Minister for Referendum Patrick Nisira said the signing of the agreement between the two governments signified an important step forward : The Bougainville Referendum Commission needs approximately K20 million for it to begin its operations.

Pic Caption: (L-R) ABG Electoral Commissioner George Manu, PNG Electoral Commissioner, Patilias Gamato sign the agreement while ABG Chief Secretary Joseph Nobetau and PNG Chief Secretary Isaac Lupari look on

see Part I of this report here

The Autonomous Bougainville Government continues to make headway in the lead up to the Referendum with the creation of the Bougainville Referendum Commission.

The signing of the agreement between the ABG and GoPNG happened on January 24, 2017 in Port Moresby.

The ABG Delegation was led by the Vice President and Minister for Referendum, Hon. Patrick Nisira and the Chief Secretary, Joseph Nobetau whilst the the GoPNG Chief Secretary, Isaac Lupari and the PNG Electoral Commissioner, all of Bougainville’s National MP’s were present with the exception of Louta Atoi.

The GoPNG Chief Secretary, Isaac Lupari said that the BRC remains a priority for the National Government so funding for the entity will be sourced to cater for the BRC to begin its operations.

The formation of the BRC as an independent and impartial entity was agreed upon by the National Executive Council, the Bougainville Executive Council and the Attorney General.

As per the Bougainville Peace Agreement and the Constitution of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea Section, 340 (1(a)) that provides for the PNG Electoral Commission and the Bougainville Electoral Commission will be jointly responsible for the conduct of the referendum.

The GoPNG, ABG, PNG Electoral Commission and the Bougainville Electoral Commission have entered into an agreement which provides for the implementation of the joint responsibility through the establishment of an independent agency, the Bougainville Referendum Commission, which will carry out the referendum on Bougainville.

The second document to be signed is the Charter that will enable the BRC to operate as an independent inter-government agency that will supervise the referendum.

The Charter will be signed by the Governor General at a later date to allow for the BRC to become operational.

 

Ends////

 

Bougainville News : Signing of the Agreement on the formation of the Bougainville Referendum Commission

 

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 ” The signing of this agreement signifies the progress of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville as we strive to find a lasting political solution that will be the ultimate political future of Bougainville.”

Hon. Patrick Nisira Vice President

The Agreement on the administrative requirements for the conduct of the referendum on the political status of Bougainville was signed between the Government of Papua New Guinea, the Autonomous Bougainville Government, the Electoral Commission of Papua New Guinea and the Bougainville Electoral Commissioner.

The formation of the Bougainville Referendum Commission will give flesh to the referendum process on Bougainville; it will be an independent commission that will oversee the referendum with the hope that the process follows stringent democratic principles and has integrity.

The parties agree that the Referendum is to be conducted through a body to be established by the head of state, in this case the Governor General, under Section 58 of the Organic Law to be called the “Bougainville Referendum Commission”.

In accordance with the Organic Law the electoral authorities will enter into an agreement to implement it through the BRC.

The Bougainville Referendum Commission is an independent entity that has been established by both the National Government and the ABG as the administrative to conduct the referendum through the support of the electoral agencies on Bougainville and PNG.

The signing of the agreement between the two governments signified an important step forward and I give all stakeholders the assurance of the ABG’s full support and respect of the independence of the commission.

However I must remind the parties present at the signing that the independence of the BRC does not mean the commission works alone of the two governments, the two governments will continue to play a crucial role on agreeing on the framework on important matters as the options available in the referendum, security and funding issues.

In his inauguration speech President Chief Dr. John Momis said the Bougainville Peace Agreement is the real basis for us all being here today. It provides us with an exclusive right to self-determination. We can choose and shape our future, a right unique in PNG, and rare internationally. We should celebrate this right, as we do by being here today.

The Peace Agreement is a political and constitutional contract between the National Government and Bougainville. It must be honoured in full.

The Agreement is not a gift without any strings attached. Instead it will deliver real benefits only if we work hard to make use of the opportunities provided to us. We cannot just sit back and wait for the National Government and donors to deliver us to a promised land.

Only we Bougainvilleans can build the new Bougainville we want. We must grasp our opportunities. We cannot ignore the requirements of the Agreement. Without it, we would have no legitimate basis for what we do.

In the last Joint Supervisory Body meeting we agreed with the National Government on (a) the key questions to be asked, (b) the common roll to be used and who are eligible to vote, (c) the body to conduct the referendum, and (d) the date for the referendum. It is very clear that time is not on our side and we need to move fast.

As the Vice President and Minister for Referendum I am proud that we have achieved the final two points that have been agreed on during the last JSB, which are the June 15, 2019 working date and with the formation of the BRC.

The ABG has singled out unity as the key to the successful holding of the referendum and for Bougainville to achieve much progress in the way forward to self-determination and eventual independence.

The ABG’s Referendum Department is already conducting a region-wide consultation for this Government to visit all districts to sit and discuss government policies and programs but more importantly to hear what our communities are saying.

Sometime our communities cry foul on us merely because we have not given them the opportunity to be heard and to participate. We need to take heed of the adage “divided we fall, united we stand”.

The greatest threat to a progressive and vibrant Bougainville is the people of Bougainville to remain polarized between different groupings such as Meekamui, Kingdom of Papala and Ex-Combatants etc. My appeal is for the people of Bougainville to come under the legally constituted entity – ABG.

The next step is for the leaders at the political level to have a continued dialogue between the ABG and the National Government.

We already have the JSB meetings as the avenue for this continued dialogue; we must map out what the Referendum will achieve that is beneficial to the people of Bougainville.

June 15, 2019 has been set as the target date but we must confirm an actual date for the Referendum to be conducted, we also must come up with a definitive question that will offer the options for Bougainvilleans to decide our ultimate political future.

The Bougainville Referendum Commission will now help foster the responsibility of this issue and ensure that we have a successful outcome.

I now challenge Bougainvilleans to focus on weapons disposal to provide secure environment where the referendum process is free and fair.

It is time we all took responsibility of our actions and work hard to make Bougainville great again.

I thank the Prime Minister’s Department and Chief Secretary, Ambassador Isaac Lupari, the PNG Electoral Commission, the ABG Chief Secretary Joseph Nobetau and the hard working Bougainville Administration. I must also make mention of our important development partners; Australia, the UNDP and others who continue to support Bougainville.

Hon. Patrick Nisira

Vice President

Bougainville News : What has happened to Panguna 27 years on from 1989

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PANGUNA and the landowners have had a mixture of these feelings, expectations and aberrations during the time of mining but have never felt so unsure and deflated since the mine was forcibly shut down at the end of 1989. That is 27 years ago now.

Today the folks in Panguna still wake up to an altered landscape asking what they did to deserve to be left in abeyance like this. Their women – mothers of the land – still eke out their livelihood from tilling their only remaining diminished arable plots of land which are perched mostly on hillsides. They say the rest of what used to be fertile grounds is barren or cannot support life as it used to.

But on the hillsides at least the taros are rooting well, the bananas are bunching big, the sweet potatoes, and the cassavas and greens are more pleasing to the women that grow them and who are keen to work the land than pan for gold under the hot sun or in drenching rains.

Everyone is resigned to thinking a scorched and altered land and landscape may never be restored or replenished to its original state. No one has been around here to tell the women otherwise.

You can be fabulously happy and absolutely content

Cheery with day to day pleasures in life

Feel a great relief within yourself

Be very positively out looking

You feel good and quite futuristic that life ahead will be a real treat

You couldn’t ask or wish for more

But when things aren’t working out

Each day becomes a confounding liability

A seemingly insoluble dichotomy

Like a light load has become heavy as lead such as not even experienced in conflict

Such is what PANGUNA has become

What a lot for the people of Panguna

From Simon Pentanu

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The starkest example of this is along the water banks of Kaverong and Karuna rivers and down their estuaries that confluent with the Jaba before they silt their way down to Empress Augusta Bay on the west coast.

Along here, a lot of original locals and recent arrivals wash after gold, convinced it is the only promising opportunity where there are no other viable means to earn any reliable income. It’s an opportunity people put a lot of effort into. It is a tedious and unenviable, even hazardous, process. But it has become a daily constitution, an important part of their active living and working day.

The numbers of people you can see, including many women and children, that conglomerate and dot whole areas along the banks, estuaries and puddles are like earthlings resigned to this fate until they are provided another means to earn their keep. This is serious business for the people who do this as this is their best mainstay that provides any income.

It is a cruel irony that this place which provided for over 40% of the country’s GNP (or is it GDP) when Panguna was on full throttle has nothing to show for or give today except a mighty big koropo (hole) and denuded structures, twisted steels and a few remaining scavengers still after what’s left of the scrap metal that once attracted so many buyers and flyers here.

The Chinese were the last here but arrived better equipped and prepared, virtually clearing out the remaining lot including the torched trucks and electric shovels deep down in the mine pit. They may have been the last to get in but they are the first that decided to stay on. And they are staying put up there, apparently with the imprimatur of some of the landowners.

What seems even more cruel is, sources for regular reliable income support in my Panguna is scarce. The people cannot grow cocoa and coconuts because of the altitude and topography of the area and the menace mining left to good gardening land.

As usual women are burdened to provide food in what they can grow to eat and sell to bring in some money from selling at two Morgan Junction markets as well at roadside fruit and veggies markets along the way from Panguna to Arawa.

Panguna’s biggest local hero Francis Ona came to prominence when he took a stand against his own extended family members and relatives, and BCL for what he saw as an unfair, unjust and iniquitous control and distribution of royalty and lease payments

Francis was incensed by what he thought and saw as the vanguard of RMTL Executives supported by BCL against a mounting dissatisfaction of younger generation that felt their grievances for share of the pie was not being given due consideration.

Their frustration culminated in an attempt to oust and replace the elderly and duly elected PLOA whose numbers comprised the majority in the RMTL Executive already in place. Francis and his younger followers as well as dissatisfied allies that were attracted to his rallying calls held an AGM convoked by Francis and his close confidants.

That AGM, whether it was called and held as an extraordinary meeting or not, was a turning point, a trigger to many extraordinary and unsettling incidents that followed.

The RMTL Executive, not unexpectedly, put out a notice in the printed media, locally and nationally, that the actions and intentions by Francis with his cohorts, followers and supporters was null and void, not legitimate, it was not legal and the status quo with RMTL and the powers that be did not change.

Let us say and accept the rest is history, a short and sad history that BCL and the rest of Bougainville became embroiled in without any indication or warning. It is a history that is intertwined with irreverent behaviour, blood letting and a descent into the abyss that Bougainville has managed to come out of but must avoid ever returning to at all costs.

There is some lingering concern that the fallout from the voluntary pull out and disbursement of shares in BCL by Rio is developing into arguments and differences between some of the same people that Francis took a singular hard line against.

The reverberations within the rank and file of the Panguna mine-affected landowners associations are still audible and the fractures are still visible. In the mean time everyone else is still trying to figure out what Panguna means now after Rio has pulled the plug and cartwheeled out of Bougainville.

May be not quite! Rio was left in both an unenviable and untenable position that left it little choice but to make the commercial decision it made. The pros and cons, the timing and implications of Rio’s decision will long be argued, possibly in the Court rooms here and abroad as well.

There are lessons we can learn from this. One such lesson is to be aware and accept to a greater or lesser extent that we may be a traditional Melanesian society but we no longer live in a totally Melanesian world any more.

Gladly, the ABG and in particular the Minister for Mining, is keeping a vigil on the shares issue. Despite the adverse comments and spurious criticisms often leveled and directed at ABG no one is more acquainted and familiar with the issues surrounding Panguna and Rio’s decision to offload its interest, than the ABG.

In the beginning everyone rushed into Panguna like honey bees taking to a new beehive. The success was profuse and very visible in the way Panguna started.

To the mining investor at the time Panguna was seen as a cash cow, though not ideally located in the largely virgin Crown Prince Range. The forest was dense green, the creeks and flowing rivers and estuaries pristine and bird life and marsupials adorning their habitat in plentiful numbers.

But for everyone, including the often bewildered, sometimes excited and expectant landowners this was probably the best opportunity to catapult Bougainville from the backwaters to unimaginable affluence. No one foresaw or imagined the stuff of effluence that everyone from miner to landowner, hardliner to politician and the environmentalist, that Bougainville and Bougainvilleans across the Island would be mired in.

When the decision was made to mine, it’s timing, the setting, the script and scene was ideal. May be more than ideal. To the colonial administering authority Panguna provided the perfect investment to finance Papua and New Guinea which was already showing signs that its political independence was emerging as an issue for open and frank discussion with Canberra. To the Australian PM at the time John Gorton, and his Ministers at the the time like Charles Barnes, Andrew Peacock and to those in Konedobu like David Hay, APJ Newman, Tom Ellis and others Panguna looked a very promising prospect if Independence was going to be forced and fostered on PNG by some of its own brooding politicians sooner than later. As it turned out it was Paul Whitlam and his Labour Government that gave the inevitable nod to Independence.

The dye was cast both for Panguna to go ahead as a real mining proposition and for the inevitable political process and transition to Independence for Papua and New Guinea as a single entity and as one country.

I’m not sure whether Panguna today is lying flat on its face or lying down on its belly. I don’t think it’s either.

After the landscape has been defaced and the cream of the booty and loot is gone there isn’t much of the old Panguna face that is left to be recognizable any more. And it has no belly to speak of or talk about after it has been totally gutted out.

There is a lot of doubt there will be anyone going in to reopen Panguna any time soon or in in the foreseeable future.

No investor in their sober mind would do without any assurance that it will not be run out of there by landowners and the so called hardliners. The challenge to all of us is excruciatingly difficult mammoth and complex as everyone, including ABG and Rio Tinto have found.

It is heartening to hear now that through the efforts of member for Kokoda Mr Rodney Osiocco all MHRs from Central Bougainville have embarked on all inclusive consultative meetings and discussions that will be ongoing that will include all ex-combatant factions and those that have labeled themselves “hardliners” from central Bougainville. We can only be optimistic that with the direct and deliberate involvement of elected local leaders of the House some of the long insoluble issues can be dealt with, with a more united approach and unity of purpose.

So what is left of Panguna? Among the LOs they are pitted at different ends of the same table but seeking the same outcomes. The remnants of the old and new may not be clearly visible but some of the same players that bore much of the brunt of Francis Ona’s spite and angst, even antagonism, still differ in their demands and approach. Even the method in how the last of the entitlement payments from Rio Tinto might be shared or divided and how the mine might be regurgitated into the future are still not one hundred percent resolved.

Panguna is not the same anymore. The ground rules have changed both at political and landowners level. The real headache for ABG irrespective of who is in Government is, any Tom, Dick, Harry, Mohammed and Wong can go in and stake a claim up there as long as they have the favour of one landowner clan family member or an ex-combatant operative.

In all of these intrusive dalliances with foreigners that juice favour with limitless amounts of cash from dubious sources, peddled in Bougainville by dubious men. These people have very little regard to the processes that registered LO Associations and ABG and BCL have been engaged in, in attempts to deal with Bel Kol, legacy issues and move on.

BCL as a company is now owned in equal parts by ABG on behalf of ARoB and by GoPNG on behalf of the Independent State of PNG.

The best that can happen, and we hope it does, is for the new owners of BCL to sit in one room across a table and feel comfortable enough to start talking.

It’s called opening up to one another, casting politics aside and have time for sentiments and for each other at a real human level.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bougainville Peace Walk : Let us keep walking and talking peace !

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 ” A Peace Walk may happen only one day in a year. But we must wear peace on our sleeves and bear it in our hearts everyday. It is the most precious and rewarding gift that we can wear, bear and share with others in our life time.

This is not a project in the conventional or orthodox sense. A message for peace is a potent message, a way of life if you like, that all humanity must subscribe to globally.

Bougainville has something to show for its commitment to peace that was born out of a desire to return to peace by peaceful means.

The Bougainville Peace Agreement, a joint creation by the National Government and the leaders of Bougainville is a testimony to this commitment.

We can better reach and embrace others in peace with us only after we make peace within ourselves.

Simon Pentanu Speaker of the House

Photo above : This is part of the crowd  that participated in the annual Peace Walk from Parliament House, Kubu to Bel Isi Park, Buka town on Friday 09 December 2016. 

The BPA is our political trajectory for peace, a joint memorandum if you like, created between the National Government and Bougainville leaders. That the BPA was agreed to with its signing witnessed by representatives of the international community and Pacific | Oceania regional leaders is a testament by all parties for an unerring desire to see sustainable peace in Bougainville.

If you are looking for impact and performance indicators where peace is at and how we have faired since the signing of the BPA since end of August 2001, one of the best places to look is the last place we often go looking, that is to our heart and within our heart.

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By anyone’s measure or comparison I am prepared to be shot down in saying that the peace process and progress in Bougainville has been exponential. This has required and involved the efforts and commitment of many people and many organizations. But most of all it has required the willingness, cooperation and commitment on Bougainville, of Bougainvilleans to sustain it thus far.

Thank you Buka Town Manager for your support.

Thank you to the ABG Ministers who walked with everyone from start to finish.

Thank you BWF and the many women who braved and enjoyed the walk for a good cause that is universal and very relevant to Bougainville; special thanks to the students from Kamarau International School who were the peace banner bearers on the walk all the way; grateful thanks to members of the civil society whose hearts’ desire always responds readily to occasions like this; thank you to UNDP and other agencies of the UN family for your unequivocal support for peace for a better Bougainville. The mobile support ahead provided by the Bougainville police is appreciated, thank you.

Thank you to the person in the wheelchair who willed and supported this day and wheeled all the way from start to finish. You were not just another person in the Walk. You made a big, special effort. We applaud and thank you.

Thank you Chief Secretary and our senior and rank and file public servants and officials; thank you any political staff that came along.

Thank you to everyone else that took part. Let us keep doing it. You can never have enough, or make enough, peace. Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

The onus is on us.

Let us keep Walking !

 

Bougainville Referendum News : Calls for PNG to lift its game over Bougainville

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 “A former Papua New Guinea cabinet minister says Port Moresby has to do more to help prepare Bougainville for its referendum on independence.

The autonomous region is set to hold a vote in June of 2019.

A former MP for Central Bougainville and the first Minister of Bougainville Affairs, Sam Akoitai, said the National Government must do everything possible to ensure Bougainvilleans have full faith in the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) ahead of the vote, which is the final stage of the Peace Agreement.”

Mr Akoitai has prepared a statement for the National Parliament’s Bi-Partisan Committee, which met last week on Bougainville, and hopes the MPs will get a better idea of the issues facing Bougainville ahead of the vote.

He told Don Wiseman from RNZ about his chief concerns.

 

Arawa, Bougainville Photo: RNZI

Bougainville Referendum News : A record of the issues and concerns of the Wakunai community

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STATEMENT BY MR. SAM AKOITAI, MADE ON BEHALF OF THE CHIEFS AND COE CHAIRMEN OF WAKUNAI ON THE OCCASION OF THE PUBLIC MEETING WITH THE BI-PARTISAN COMMITTEE OF THE NATIONAL PARLIAMENT ON THE BOUGAINVILLE REFERENDUM HELD AT WAKUNAI DISTRICT OFFICE October 14

This statement has been prepared after the meeting at the request of the National Parliament Bipartisan Committee to provide a record of the issues and concerns of the Wakunai community leaders, both male and female, expressed at the meeting by Mr. Akoitai and by other leaders of the Wakunai Community.

 

ORIGINS OF THE BOUGAINVILLE CONFLICT

The Bougainville Crisis began because of concerns of Bougainvilleans about environmental damage of the Panguna Copper Mine without fair compensation for Bougainville under the mining agreement made between the Australian Colonial Administration and Conzinc Riotinto Australia (CRA) without any voice for the Panguna and other impacted landowners, or for other Bougainvilleans. There is clear evidence of the impacts and the unhappiness of the people in films, newspapers and documents from the time.

The Colonial Administration gave a limited recognition to the concerns of the people by agreeing to Sir Paul Lapun’s 1967 demand for 5 per cent of royalties to go to landowners, by increasing the compensation and occupation fees a little from the small amounts originally offered, and by the 1971 imposition of a ‘moratorium’ on further exploration or mining development other than what had already been authorised for Panguna. But none of this went anywhere near to meeting the concerns of landowners and other Bougainvilleans.

From the late 1960s concern about the mine being forced on Bougainville, mainly for the benefit of the rest of PNG, added strongly to already existing support for Bougainville’s independence. Independence support had been developing for many years before that as Bougainvilleans became increasingly aware that artificial colonial borders separated Bougainvilleans from their relatives in Solomon Islands and made them part of PNG without their agreement.

The demand by Francis Ona in 1988 for K10 billion compensation for the damage caused by the mine expressed the anger of the Bougainville people about the impacts of the mine. The refusal of BCL and the National Government to listen to that demand, and the violence of the Police Riot Squads sent to Bougainville from the end of 1988 resulted in greatly increased support for Bougainville independence.

The Conflict

This is the history that caused deaths of many Bougainvilleans and people from other parts of PNG, and massive destruction in Bougainville. Many believe as many as 20,000 Bougainvilleans died. Bougainvillean families and communities were divided. Brother killed brother. In my place sons even killed their own fathers.

Many very important leaders died violent and completely unnecessary deaths. They included Ken Savia and Theodore Miriung, then Premier of the Bougainville Transitional Government, who was striving to build peace. He was assassinated by members of the PNGDF and the Bougainville Resistance Forces. The outcry over his death, in Bougainville, PNG and internationally, led to an inquiry into his death by a judge from Sri Lanka. It identified those involved, but has never been made public. No prosecutions ever occurred. Deaths of other senior leaders since the conflict ended were in large part caused by the stresses of the conflict, including those of Francis Ona and Joseph Kabui.

The Bougainville Peace Process

The conflict, which ended in 1997 (almost 20 years ago) is now history. It was ended by the Bougainville Peace Agreement, signed on 30 August 2001, more than 15 years ago. It was after four years of hard work by both Bougainvillean and PNG leaders to build peace. So it was a joint creation of both PNG and Bougainville.

Key leaders contributing on the PNG side included Prime Ministers Skate and Morauta, and ministers for Bougainville Affairs. I was the first of those, and followed by Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare and Sir Moi Avei. Key leaders on the Bougainville side included Chief John Momis and Joseph Kabui.

Our efforts in building peace and signing the Peace Agreement would not have been possible without support from the international community. As first Minister for Bougainville Affairs during the peace process, in late 1997 I negotiated on behalf of the National Government to establish the regional mission – the New Zealand–led Truce Monitoring Group (TMG) which also included Fiji, Vanuatu and Australia. The TMG and then its successor the PMG were in Bougainville from November 1997 to June 2003. Early in 1998 I was also involved in negotiating for a United Nations observer mission. It was present in Bougainville from mid-1998 to June 2005.

These contributions of the international community, together with strong financial support from many donors, enabled the very divided parties to begin to trust and work with one another and then to slowly negotiate for the Peace Agreement. Both the PMG and the UN observer mission played key roles in facilitating the negotiation process. They reported back regularly to their home governments in the region, and to the United Nations. The progress of the Bougainville Peace process was discussed regularly in the United Nations Security Council.

The Bougainville Peace Agreement

To overcome the many divisions that had caused, or arisen during, the conflict both the PNG National Government and the Bougainville leaders made many compromises on key issues. Those compromises by both sides are recorded in the Peace Agreement. The parties committed themselves to all the things in the long Agreement when they signed it in Arawa on 30 August 2001, in the presence of many international leaders. The Agreement was endorsed by the United Nations Security Council, and the United Nations continues to follow closely the progress being made in implementation of all aspects of the Agreement.

The commitments from the National Government and the Bougainville leader in that Agreement were approved by the PNG Cabinet and by the Bougainville political leadership before the signing. After the signing, as had been provided for in the Agreement, officials of both sides formed a joint technical committee to oversee the drafting of the Papua New Guinea Constitutional Laws that gave force to the Agreement.

Those draft laws were unanimously approved by votes of the National Parliament early in 2002. The requirements of the Peace Agreement are now just as much a part of the PNG Constitution as the provisions that create the National Parliament or the Supreme Court.

It is those Constitutional Laws that created the political structures of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG), and elections for its House of Representatives. The laws also provide for the calculation and payment of National Government grants to the ABG. The existence of those grants, and how they are calculated each year, are not just matters of agreement, or of negotiation as part of the annual PNG budget. No – they are things clearly stated in the National Constitution. If the National Government does not comply with the financial commitment in the Peace Agreement and the Constitution, then it is breaching the National Constitution.

During the negotiation of the Peace Agreement, and in the two or three years after it was signed, there were many awareness programs in Bougainville about the Peace Agreement, weapons disposal, and the making of the Bougainville Constitution. But after the ABG was established in June 2005, awareness programs stopped for a long time. As a result, many Bougainvilleans have limited understanding of what is in the Peace Agreement.

At the same time, arguments between the National Government and the ABG about such things as the calculation of grants due to the ABG, or issues about the future of the Panguna mine and Rio Tinto shares in BCL, add to the difficulties of Bougainvilleans understanding the Peace Agreement. They make them loose faith in the Agreement.

The National Government sometimes seems to believe that it can make decisions about matters in Bougainville that the Peace Agreement makes clear are responsibilities of Bougainville. It seems to forget that the Autonomous Bougainville Government, and its powers and responsibilities to make decisions for Bougainville, come from the National Constitution.

On behalf of the leaders of Wakunai, I call on the National Government and the ABG to work closely together to implement the Peace Agreement, and the provisions of the National Constitution.

The REferendum

They particularly need to cooperate now, as we head towards the Referendum. In setting the date for the referendum within the five years from 2015 to 2020, the ABG needs to meet good governance, weapons disposal and fiscal self-reliance benchmarks. In addition, because the Peace Agreement and the National Constitution require the Referendum to be ‘free and fair’, much needs to be done in terms of weapons disposal, good governance, and establishing basic respect for the rule of law.

The main objective of the Peace Agreement is to achieve restoration of total peace within Bougainville and between Bougainville and Papua New Guinea. For that to happen, the National Government must do two main things. First, it must do everything needed to give Bougainvilleans full faith in the ABG – only in that way can Bougainvilleans judge whether autonomy really meets their needs.

Second, it must fully support the agreed, constitutionally based referendum arrangements. Those arrangements were included as part of the compromises that all parties made. If what was agreed about the referendum is not honoured, progress towards restoration of peace will stop. That will be a recipe for a return to conflict.

The National Government must assist the ABG and the people of Bougainville in carrying out a reconciliation process in Bougainville before the referendum is held.

The National Government must avoid dealing with Bougainville issues unless it does so through the ABG, or with its agreement. There is no other way of dealing with Bougainville issues. Bougainville is not a province, the ABG is no a provincial government. No – Bougainville is an autonomous region, and the ABG has full autonomy to decide matters given to it by the PNG Constitution.

The Peace Agreement states why we agreed to autonomy – it was to empower Bougainvilleans to solve their own problems and realise their own goals. The ABG was the main institution established to enable Bougainvilleans to do this. When the National Government refuses to work with the ABG, or attacks the President for speaking up on behalf of Bougainville, the chances of the Agreement bringing peace are undermined.

It is heartbreaking to hear statements made by certain National Government leaders attacking the President of Bougainville. He was voted by more than 60,000 Bougainvilleans. As a defeated presidential candidate, I fully recognise him and support him as the true leader of Bougainville. Not only is he President, he is also a paramount chief, and deserves nothing but respect.

The recent decisions made about the 17.4 per cent Rio Tinto shareholding in BCL are an example of what happens when the National Government ignores the ABG. The National Government has refused to listen to the ABG, and has interfered in Bougainville’s internal affairs in ways that could cause serious problems and internal conflict. And yet the 17.4 per cent BCL shares are almost worthless.

The whole Rio Tinto issue was badly handled by the National Government. It negotiated direct with Rio Tinto without consultation with the ABG. It allowed Rio to walk away without dealing with environmental damage, the terrible problems of relocated villages, and other legacy issues.

The 17.4 per cent Rio shares issue is seen by most Bougainvilleans as evidence of a divide and rule tactic by the National Government. The landowners now are left with all the legacy issues, and shares worth nothing. Yet other Bougainvilleans think those same landowners should be contributing compensation for those who died during the conflict.

Under the Peace Agreement, the Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) is intended to be the main body that implements the Agreement. It is also supposed to deal with disputes between the two governments. So it is an important institution. It cannot be treated as just a rubber stamp for the National Government.

There are now so many major issues where the ABG and the National Government are in dispute. They include the calculation of the Restoration and Development Grant and other grants, revenues from migratory fishing licences associated with Bougainville, and the Rio shares issue.

The National Government must seriously engage with the ABG to resolve these and other major outstanding issues as soon as possible, and certainly well before the referendum.

There are also many serious issues about the referendum that have to be negotiated and decided before the Referendum can be held. They include the question or questions to be asked, and the qualifications for non-resident Bougainvilleans to enrol to vote. The National Government must also engage seriously with the ABG on these matters, and must do so as soon as possible.

Because of internal conflict in Bougainville, I ended up fighting against some of my own people, in support of the National Government. I worked with over 4,000 others in the Bougainville Resistance Forces. I shed the blood of some of my own people. We negotiated the Peace Agreement to end all of this.

If the National Government fails to implement the Agreement in full, it will be a betrayal of me and my more than 4,000 brothers who supported the National Government during the conflict.

Now it is time for the National Government to assist me, just as I assisted the National Government – it must fully implement the Bougainville Peace Agreement, in partnership with the people of Bougainville.

 

Sam Akoitai

17 October 2016

Bougainville Referendum News : President Momis encourages an all-inclusive consultative approach to referendum

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The National Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government should not be trying to outdo each other in the lead up to the referendum to decide Bougainville’s political future.

ABG President Grand Chief Dr John Momis made this statement as he welcomed the Parliamentary Bi-partisan Committee on Referendum chaired by Southern Highlands Governor William Powi who was accompanied by Madang Governor, Jim Kas and Nuku MP Joe Sungi to Bougainville.

“Both governments should concentrate on how best to engage each other in a transparent and principled manner that is mutually acceptable to both sides and more over beneficial to the people of Bougainville,” President Momis said.

President Momis encouraged an all-inclusive consultative approach with an emphasis on lateral engagement of issues that pertain to the referendum on Bougainville.

President Momis also told the three national MP’s that the implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, which is the political roadmap for Bougainville, must be done in a holistic manner and cover the many dimensions of life that both the National Government and the ABG must take under very serious consideration.

“The BPA in no uncertain terms stipulates its joint implementation by the National Government and the ABG and creates the parameters within the process of self-determination by the people of Bougainville is played out,” Momis said.

Momis told the committee members that imposing ideas without respect to the people of Bougainville will be futile as imposition contradicts with their ultimate growth and development as a people.

The sentiments expressed by President Momis comes at a time when the ABG is facing serious shortages in financial resources, disagreements over the grants owed to Bougainville by the National Government and the recent fiasco surrounding the Bougainville Copper Limited shares divested by Rio Tinto.

Many Bougainvillean leaders have seen these recent setbacks as a strong arm tactic by the National Government in having a firm grip on determining how referendum will be played out.

But Momis has maintained his firmness that both governments must come to an agreement and begin to trust each other and to ensure the BPA is fully implemented without any further delay.

Bougainville Communications/ New Technologies PART 2 : Creating awareness on the referendum and development

new-technology

People can now listen to information on radio by tuning in to Shortwave 1 frequency; 3.325 kilohertz on NBC Bougainville and the shortwave radio signal covers all parts of Bougainville and can be heard as far as East of Hawaii, Germany, Australia and the Pacific,”

“To stimulate public interest and create awareness on the referendum and development in Bougainville we have since June conducted 10 live talk back shows hosted by ABG’s Mobile Community Radio – Radio Ples Lain and relayed over NBC Bougainville and New Dawn,”

ABG President Grand Chief Dr John Momis

Pic Caption: ABG President Grand Chief Dr John Momis (seated), with UNDP reps, chiefs and local leaders at the official launching of the upgraded NBC Bougainville studios last week.

The Autonomous Bougainville Government is making headway in developing the media in the region to allow people more access to information.

This move has seen the upgrade of the NBC Bougainville facilities where the ABG committed K5 million to improve the coverage and broadcasting of the radio station.

In opening the facility ABG President Grand Chief Dr John Momis said this included the procurement of new studio broadcast equipment, renovation to the Hutjena studio, procurement of a brand new fully digital 10 kilowatt shortwave transmitter.

We intend to embark on a region wide awareness campaign working closely with Constituency members, Communality Government, Village Assemblies, Women, Youth and Churches.

Momis added that the Bureau of Public Affairs, Media and Communication has so far produced and air 160 radio programmes since February to August 2016.

These radio programmes have been well appreciated by the people as they gain insight and understanding on what the government is doing at Department and Ministry level.

Another important development is the ABG’s very own Bougainville Bulletin which has progressed well with well over 150,000 copies distributed all over Bougainville since 2015.

President Momis also revealed that the ABG has started developing resource material to support awareness on the Bougainville Peace Agreement and especially Referendum.

The UNDP as per the ABG’s request has supported the government with the procurement of equipment.

The equipment will be utilised to conduct awareness at the community level and includes a new information center based in Buka Town with literary material and a mobile audio visual vehicle convinently named Piksa Ples Lain.