Negotiations On B'ville Resume Today
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PORT MORESBY: Negotiations on the political future of Bougainville will resume today, reports the Post-Courier.
No talks were held between the Papua New Guinea national Government’s negotiating team and the Bougainvillean leaders on Friday or Saturday after the Bougainvilleans team walked out of the talks on Thursday afternoon.
The team, co-led by Governor John Momis and Bougainville People’s Congress president Joseph Kabui, walked out of the talks after what they said was the National Government’s back tracking on a number of issues critical to their push for an autonomous government and a referendum on the political future of the province.
Mr Kabui said yesterday afternoon he and his team was intact and would wait for talks to resume today.
"Nothing happened last Friday or Saturday,’" Mr Kabui said.
He said there was an understanding reached with the National Government last Thursday that the negotiations will resume today.
"There is an understanding in place that both parties will get together again and carry on the negotiations tomorrow (today)," he said.
"That’s contained in a letter Sir Michael (Somare, Bougainville Affairs Minister and the leader of the Government team) sent to me and Governor Momis.
"We are still here.
"My team is all intact and we are ready to continue the negotiations."
On Friday, Sir Michael told Parliament during Question Time the talks were discontinued prematurely last Thursday because the Bougainvillean leaders were unhappy with the “wording’’ and had walked out in protest.
He said the walkout by the Bougainvilleans had come at a time when discussions had reached a critical stage.
Negotiations up to that time had been "very good",he said, adding his side had been in touch with the Bougainvilleans immediately to organise reconvening the talks.
Sir Michael said such a walk out was expected at such negotiations.
Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta reiterated his Government’s commitment to the peace process, saying Bougainville would continue to be a priority area for his Government.