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Ona Accuses Aussies Of Helping Arms Build-Up

Pacific Media Watch:

Pasifik Nius:

PORT MORESBY: Rebel leader Francis Ona yesterday accused Australia of helping Papua New Guinea in a military build-up on Bougainville while protracted peace talks continue, the National reports.

He was speaking by satellite telephone from his hideout in central Bougainville, just 24 hours after the latest peace talks concluded in Port Moresby.

Ona has never been involved in the peace negotiations.

He said he had "evidence" of the PNG Defence Force troop build-up at Arawa and Buin in the south of the island.

"I don't believe in negotiations (with the PNG government)," he said.

"As far as I am concerned, we are already independent. We have paid the price (in the war).

"Papua New Guinea must understand this and recognise our independence."

Ona claimed he did not want war again.

"But there is a military build-up by Australia and PNG. I fear they are planning to make war again on Bougainville. We are going to start all over again. We still have our fighters and we still have our weapons," he said.

"But that will not take us anywhere."

Ona said the island's rebel force had now split into two separate commands - his Mekamui Defence Force (MDF), based at Panguna and in the south, and Bougainville People's Congress (BPC) president Joseph Kabui's force on the east coast and in the north.

"Kabui is negotiating with PNG to see what he can get from PNG," Ona said.

"But PNG does not have any money and the MDF will not allow CRA back onto the island. One day we will sue them for millions of kina for the environmental damage they have done here."

The next round of peace talks between the Government and the BPC - which is

demanding the greatest possible autonomy on the island and a referendum - will be held at Arawa on Feb 27. - AAP


This document is for educational and research use only. Recipients should seek permission from the copyright source before reprinting. PASIFIK NIUS service is provided by the niusedita via the Journalism Program, University of the South Pacific.

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