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Bougainville: PM To Outline Autonomy Stand

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PORT MORESBY: Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta will make a statement in Parliament today in relation to the Bougainville political talks.

Sir Mekere said yesterday the statement comes after detailed bipartisan discussions over a long period about the Government's policy on the maintenance of peace by peaceful means, the restoration of essential and basic services on Bougainville, the highest possible autonomy for the province and requests by Bougainville leaders for a referendum.

Sir Mekere said the statement would cover these basic matters adding that the Bougainville delegation in Port Moresby and foreign missions are being briefed on the statement.

In another development, a Bougainville rebel faction led Ishmael Toroama has indicated it will refuse to discuss weapons disposal, a pre-requisite to the referendum-autonomy talks next week, because of the increasing presence of PNG Defence Force personnel in parts of Bougainville.

Although Defence Minister Muki Taranupi told Parliament he was not aware of an increase in personnel, Mr Toroama insists that the latest increase put the number of soldiers in Buka to 120 from the original 80; in Loloho to 75 from 3); Wakunai - 60 (24); and Buin 76 (37).

Mr Toroama's claims are contained in a July 31 letter to the head of the United Nations Observer Mission on Bougainville, Noel Sinclair.

He told Mr Sinclair that the PNGDF had also issued the "Military Order 281834z for re-arming of the resistance.''

He said that because of this his group will not take part in further talks of the peace process consultative committee (PPCC) which allows former fighting factions to meet with National Government agencies to discuss important issues including disposal of weapons.

The latest talks were held in Arawa on Aug 23 following the first one on

July 26.

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