The Situation on Bougainville: Implications for Papua New Guinea, Australia and the Region


Current Issues Brief 9 1996-97

Dr RJ May
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Group

Contents

Glossary

Major Issues

Introduction

Background - 1988-94

  • The early development of the conflict
  • Events during the Wingti Government
  • The period of the Chan Government

Developments since the Arawa Peace Conference

The present security situation

  • The BRA
  • The PNGDF
  • The Resistance

The political environment

External relations

  • Papua New Guinea - Solomon Islands Relations

Papua New Guinea-Australia relations and Bougainville

  • The Defence Cooperation Program (DCP)
  • Development assistance
  • Recent developments

Conclusion

Further Reading

Appendices

  1. The Charter of Mirigini for a New Bougainville
  2. Address to the Nation on Bougainville Developments
  3. The Waigani Communique
  4. Bougainville Leaders Talks
  5. Peace Plan - 1996
  6. Memorandum of Understanding

Map of Papua New Guinea

Map of Bougainville and Buka

Glossary

BRA
Bougainville Revolutionary Army
BIG
Bougainville Interim Government
BLF
Buka Liberation Front
BTG
Bougainville Transitional Government
DCP
Defence Cooperation Program
NGO
Non Government Organisation
PNGDF
Papua New Guinea Defence Force
RPNGC
Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary
SINRSF
Solomon Islands National Reconnaissance and Surveillance Force
SPPKF
South Pacific Peace Keeping Force

Major Issues

In early September, elements of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army overran a small detachment of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force at Kangu Beach, in the south of the island of Bougainville. An estimated twelve soldiers were killed and several others captured. The event was a public symbol of the failure of the latest attempt by the Papua New Guinea national government to end the conflict on Bougainville by force of arms. In fact, the government had effectively conceded defeat the previous July, when one of the two battalions conducting Operation High Speed II, the assault on the BRA, was withdrawn.

The conflict on Bougainville has persisted for almost eight years and appears no closer to resolution. Successive attempts by the Papua New Guinea security forces (the PNGDF and the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary) to defeat the BRA since the conflict broke out in 1988 have failed. Alternating with military operations have been attempts to negotiate a settlement, some of which have appeared promising, yet all of which have eventually broken down. The province, which was once the most prosperous and best educated in Papua New Guinea, has become impoverished, with about half of its population living in government care centres, unable to tend traditional village food gardens and inadequately fed and cared for by an over-stretched government relief operation.

Yet over the last few years there have been signs that the people of Bougainville are becoming more determined that a solution be found. The last attempt at a negotiated settlement, the peace conference at Arawa in October 1994, failed to attract the participation of the major leaders of the Bougainville independence movement but did entice a number of its prominent supporters to abandon violence in favour of political reconciliation. A Bougainville Transitional Government was established in April 1995, with some former members of the independence movement prominent; it was charged with pursuing reconciliation with BRA commanders, restoring the island's economy and considering the future structure of government in the province.

However, the BTG's program has now been seriously compromised by the launch, and failure, of the national government's latest military operation. The security situation is more precarious, relations between the various participants are strained and the national government's policy approach to the conflict has become muddled. With national elections to be held in mid-1997, a major re-evaluation of Bougainville policy is not likely, however much the Government might benefit from a settlement of issues on Bougainville.

The progress of the conflict is now becoming a serious international problem for Papua New Guinea. The development of the conflict over the last year has seen the PNGDF again infringing the sovereignty of the Solomon Islands and attacking Solomon Islands' citizens and security forces. UN intervention to control the border is now a possibility following acceptance by the Secretary-General of a Solomon Islands' request. Clear public disapproval by the Australian Government of the last military operation and specific complaints by Australia about the use of defence equipment supplied by it have strained relations and led to a review by both countries of the scheme under which will have to overcome all of those problems which have beset its management of the situation to date, some of which appear to be endemic at this stage of the nation's development.

Indiscipline amongst the PNGDF and police (not just amongst soldiers but in relations between the national government and some senior staff) has been a feature of the conflict. The national government cannot be secure in the management of its policies for Bougainville as they may be derailed by an intemperate act of its security personnel.

Repeated failure to restore civic services on Bougainville, causing recurring hardship for civilians in care centres, has been another feature of the conflict. As a result, people have returned to the bush thus undermining attempts to normalise the situation.

Papua New Guinea's economy has been in trouble for the last three years. The Government does not have adequate finance to run an effective military campaign on Bougainville or to restore government services. International finance assistance is available for the latter but, in many cases, cannot be used until the security situation has improved.

At times over the last two and a half decades it has been difficult for national administrations to come to terms with Bougainvilleans' sense of nationalism. Recently, the system of provincial government, established to cope with these sentiments at the time of Independence, was substantially changed. The tenure of the BTG is limited and the national parliament would have to agree to an alteration of the recent changes to provincial government to extend its life. It is debatable whether such changes would pass the Parliament, but equally debatable whether Bougainvilleans will accept any solution which does not institute some form of autonomy for the island.

Amidst these impasses, Australia may have a role to play. Australia is distrusted by many on both sides of the conflict but her assistance has helped in overcoming some of the impediments to peaceful negotiation and rehibilitation. The report of the Australian Parliamentary Delegation which visited Bougainville in early 1994 was a useful instrument in facilitating the Arawa peace conference, which was made possible with the provision of logistical support by the Australian Defence Force. Australian offers of aid to restore services on Bougainville, once security is improved, remain extant. And Australia has the expertise to establish viable administrative structures to support the rehabilitation of the island in such an event.

As was shown in conferences between the BTG and the Bougainville Interim Government (the political arm of the BRA) in Cairns at the end of 1995, Australia can still facilitate discussions between various groups involved in the conflict, which otherwise are somewhat estranged. The customary reconciliation processes of the Bougainville people provide a mechanism which may still prove effective in eventually ending the cycle of violence in Bougainville. At the moment, however, such traditional solutions cannot be applied. The contesting groups distrust of each other threatens to end, at least for the present, further attempts to solve the problem.

In these circumstances, any role which Australia can play in reducing tensions and restoring dialogue could prove important in alleviating an otherwise unpromising situation.

Introduction

The conflict in Papua New Guinea's Bougainville (North Solomons) Province(1) has been going on now for almost eight years.* What began essentially as a protest by a disgruntled landowner faction against the operations of the majority-CRA-owned Bougainville Copper mine at Panguna has become a violent confrontation between Bougainvilleans and the national government, and amongst Bougainvilleans themselves. Hundreds have died in the conflict and tens of thousands have been displaced; at present about half of the population of Bougainville has been relocated to care centres,(2) many without adequate food or health facilities. The mine, which before its forced closure in 1989 provided Papua New Guinea with around 17 per cent of its government revenue and 40 per cent of its exports, seems unlikely to recommence production. The province, formerly one of the country's richest in terms of physical and human resources, has been devastated and many of its young people, deprived of education, have been socialised into a culture of armed conflict.

Hopes for a peaceful settlement were raised in late 1994 when a Pan-Bougainville Peace Conference was organised on Bougainville, in the presence of a South Pacific Peacekeeping Force. The conference ended prematurely when the core rebel leadership failed to attend but a dialogue was established, with a Bougainville Transitional Government acting as an intermediary between the national government and the hardline rebels of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA). As recently as January 1996 these talks appeared to be making good progress, but an escalation of fighting on Bougainville in early 1996, which led to the lifting of a 1994 ceasefire and the launching of a major military offensive against the BRA in late June, appears to have substantially negated the gains that were made since 1994.

* The author of this paper, Dr Ron May, is Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Political and Social Change, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University. He has pursued research on Papua New Guinea for over two decades and his recent publications include The Bougainville Crisis (co-edited with M. Spriggs, 1990) and The Changing Role of the Military in Papua New Guinea (1993). In addition to the sources cited, this paper draws on the author's previous research and on numerous recent discussions with people in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Australia, many of whom have preferred to remain anonymous.

The latest developments raise a number of questions:

  • why has the conflict proved so intractable?
  • given the present circumstances, is a peaceful settlement possible, and if so what is needed to bring the warring parties together?
  • what are the implications of the conflict for Papua New Guinea's neighbours - particularly Australia, which, as the former colonial power, has had a close relationship with Papua New Guinea and for whom Papua New Guinea is the main recipient of development assistance and defence cooperation funding?

With these questions in mind, the purpose of this paper is to provide a background to events since 1988 (especially since the Arawa Peace Conference in October 1994), to review the present security situation and political environment, and to comment on Papua New Guinea's external relations - especially its relations with Australia - in the context of the Bougainville conflict. The primary focus of the paper is on issues concerning the peace process and the re-establishment of civil authority in Bougainville. It does not attempt to make specific policy recommendations, though some of the preconditions considered by the author to be necessary for a settlement are spelled out in the paper, as are some of the implications for Australia.

Background - 1988-94

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The early development of the conflict

The present Bougainville conflict has its immediate origins in an 1988 dispute between a breakaway faction of the Panguna Landowners' Association (which represented landowners in the area of the Bougainville copper mine) and the mining company over compensation payments and the environmental impact of the mine. Escalation of the dispute, with a series of attacks on mine installations, together with an outbreak of fighting between Bougainvilleans and non-Bougainvillean plantation workers, brought intervention by police and subsequently by the Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF), which was called in to assist the civil authority. By early 1989 the militant landowner group had joined with local cargo cultists and had attracted raskol (criminal) elements, and its leader, Francis Ona, had become something of a local folk hero. In April Ona first announced the independence of the 'Republic of Bougainville'; the same month the security forces suffered their first casualties. In May the mine was forced to close and, though it opened again briefly, by the end of 1989 it had been 'mothballed'.

During the course of 1989 and early 1990 several peace initiatives were pursued by the government of Rabbie Namaliu, but divisions between 'hawks' and 'doves' within the national government and differences among Bougainvilleans made negotiations difficult. North Solomons Provincial Premier Joseph Kabui was not only assaulted by PNGDF troops over his supposed sympathy with the militants but was abused by Bougainville separatists for supporting a negotiated peace package, and Provincial Minister John Bika was murdered by Ona's supporters. Tensions also developed between the security forces and national politicians. In March 1990, coincident with the arrival of international observers overseeing a hastily-brokered ceasefire, the security forces made an unauthorised total withdrawal from Bougainville and Buka, and two months later the acting Prime Minister, Ted Diro, imposed an effective blockade of the islands.

The rebel forces made a further declaration of independence and announced the formation of a Bougainville Interim Government (BIG), headed by Ona, with a military arm, the Bougainville Revolutionary Army under former PNGDF officer Sam Kauona. But they were unable to maintain any sort of order, and the province suffered a general economic and political collapse; Bougainvilleans describe this period as one of violent anarchy.

Negotiations between the BIG and the national government resumed in mid-1990 and in August an agreement was reached, aboard the HMNZS Endeavour anchored off Kieta, which provided for the restoration of services to Bougainville and Buka. Subsequent discussions in the Solomon Islands capital Honiara resulted in the January 1991 'Honiara Declaration', which seemed to pave the way for a peace settlement, though neither Ona nor Kauona was present at the talks (the Bougainville delegation being led by Kabui, 'Prime Minister' of the BIG).

Meanwhile community leaders on Buka, where a Buka Liberation Front (BLF) had been raised in opposition to the BRA, had requested the return of the security forces in September 1990 and in October, in a memorandum of understanding with the national government, the BLF supporters specifically rejected secession.

Peace initiatives continued to be pursued in early 1991, notwithstanding differences between the Papua New Guinea Government and its security forces, differences within the Papua New Guinea Government, and differences within the BIG (particularly concerning arrangements for the restoration of services). But in March 1991 an apparently unauthorised decision by local PNGDF commander Colonel Leo Nuia, to land troops on north Bougainville and attack a strategic bridge and a BRA base near Kieta, substantially undermined peace negotiations. (Two months later Nuia was removed after his public revelations concerning the use of Australian-supplied helicopters - see below.) Although talks continued at various levels, little more was achieved during the following twelve months. An important political development on Bougainville, however, was the creation of a number of regionally-based interim governing authorities (five by early 1992) to help restore governance in the province.

From late 1991 community leaders in south Bougainville had been negotiating for the restoration of government services and in May 1992, at their request, security forces personnel landed in the Torokina and Siwai areas, where they were assisted by local Resistance forces opposing the BRA.

Events during the Wingti Government

Following national elections in mid-1992, a change of national government raised hopes of a settlement. The incoming government, under Paias Wingti, quickly entered into negotiations with the BIG's representative in Honiara, Martin Miriori. Around the same time the Buka Interim Authority formed a peace committee with representatives from the interim authorities in north and south Bougainville and from the churches, and initiated negotiations with the BIG and traditional leaders from central Bougainville. Plans were formulated for a Pan-Bougainville Peace Conference in Honiara in September 1992.

Meanwhile the diplomatic situation facing the Papua New Guinea Government deteriorated, first as a result of incursions by security forces personnel into the neighbouring Solomon Islands, and, secondly, after a resolution of the UN Human Rights Commission called on the Papua New Guinea Government to restore freedom of movement on Bougainville and provided for a review of peace negotiations.

In September 1992 a further border violation by Papua New Guinea's security forces, in which two Solomon Islanders were killed, scuttled the proposed Pan-Bougainville meeting. Nevertheless, six months later a meeting was held, on Buka. The meeting, which was attended by the province's national MPs and some fifty traditional leaders from the province's interim authorities, considered a BIG peace plan and agreed to carry on negotiations. Subsequently, a North Solomons Peace Negotiating and Monitoring Committee was established, which met with BIG representatives in Honiara in July 1993 and produced a 'Peace and Ceasefire Agreement'.

Lack of effective response from the national government (which at this time was involved in moves to drastically reform the country's provincial government system - moves which were strongly opposed in the [other] island provinces) caused frustration among Bougainvilleans, who called for the dismissal of the Minister for Bougainville Affairs, Michael Ogio, and the administrator of Bougainville, Sam Tulo.

Little further progress was achieved until April 1994, when, following the visit of an Australian Parliamentary Delegation, Prime Minister Wingti issued a statement calling on the BIG/BRA to work with his government to end the crisis. Shortly after this, Deputy Prime Minister Sir Julius Chan, who in early 1994 had been appointed Foreign Minister, announced proposals for a multinational South Pacific peacekeeping force which would assist in the Bougainville peace process; this was the first concrete acknowledgement of the demand for a multinational supervisory team which the BIG had been making since 1991. In June 1994 a series of talks was held between representatives of the BIG and the Papua New Guinea Government in Honiara; it was agreed that a preparatory meeting, attended by representatives of the BIG, the chairmen of the now seven interim authorities, and other Bougainville representatives, should be held to formulate arrangements for a Pan-Bougainville Peace Conference. Negotiations between the BIG and the government, however, again broke down, and in August the security forces retook Panguna.

The period of the Chan Government

In August 1994 Chan replaced Wingti as Prime Minister and hopes of a settlement were revived. Another round of talks was promptly held in Honiara, attended on this occasion by BRA commander Sam Kauona; a ceasefire was established and it was agreed that a peace conference would be held in the former provincial capital, Arawa, in October. Arrangements were made for a South Pacific Peacekeeping Force (SPPKF) - comprising personnel from Fiji, Tonga and Vanuatu, with Australian and New Zealand funding and logistic support - to ensure the safe passage and security of all delegates.

In the event, the principal leaders of the BIG/BRA - Ona, Kauona and Kabui - failed to attend the Peace Conference, despite representations from Bougainvilleans (particularly Bougainvillean women's representatives) and the conference ended without reaching a settlement.

The reasons for the non-attendance at Arawa of the BIG/BRA leadership have been a subject of debate.(4) There is little doubt that Ona, Kauona and others feared an assassination attempt. Fears within the BRA were heightened with the shooting by security forces of a BRA member on his way to the Arawa conference. But there was also disinformation among the BIG/BRA about the possibilities of UN support for an independent Bougainville and the possibility of the withdrawal of the security forces from Bougainville, and expectations that a change in government in the Solomon Islands would strengthen support for the BIG there. It is also likely that, had the Papua New Guinea Government been prepared to extend the period of the conference and arrange for the continued presence of the SPPKF, the BIG/BRA might have been persuaded to come to Arawa.

Developments since the Arawa Peace Conference

Although the Arawa conference did not achieve its objectives, some BRA commanders (including the present BRA Chief of Operations, Ishmael Toroama) did attend, and the large number of Bougainvilleans who were present passed resolutions expressing a commitment to peace and reconstruction. In the following weeks peace ceremonies were held in various parts of Bougainville and movement of people around the province became more free. Church, women's, and other non-government organizations began to assist in the process of reconciliation. Moreover, attempts by Prime Minister Chan to maintain a dialogue promised to open up a new phase in the peace process. A key figure in the continuing dialogue was Theodore Miriung, ex-seminarian, former acting Supreme Court judge, former legal adviser to the BIG, and interim chairman of the North Nasioi Village Council of Chiefs.

In October and November 1994 a series of meetings of Bougainvillean leaders, including interim authority chairmen, national MPs and some BRA and Resistance commanders, was held to follow up the broad resolutions of the Arawa conference. The outcome of these meetings (which became The Bougainville Leaders Forum) was a decision to reestablish civil authority in the province, but not by simply reinstating the former provincial government system. Discussions were subsequently held with Prime Minister Chan, and although there were reservations within the Government about the proposals for a transitional government. In mid-November the Prime Minister announced a 'New Deal for Bougainville' and shortly after a 'Mirigini Charter for a New Bougainville' was signed by the Prime Minister and a Bougainville delegation (see Appendix 1). Under the Mirigini Charter the two parties agreed to establish a Bougainville Transitional Government, comprising leaders nominated by councils of chiefs from each interim authority area (councils of chiefs had emerged as the principal form of community organization following the collapse of provincial government in 1989-90), and to begin a programme of negotiations on a political settlement. By January 1995 a Bougainville Leaders Forum technical team had produced a statement of concept and strategy and a draft bill to amend the North Solomons provincial constitution. Meanwhile, members of the Bougainville Leaders Forum toured parts of the province seeking reconciliation with local BRA commanders.

The Bougainville Transitional Government (BTG) was formally established in April 1995, with Miriung as premier, and between May and August 1995 it held a series of consultations with the national government. Following the first consultation Chan and Miriung issued a statement ('The Waigani Communique;') setting out their agreement on a number of issues, including: amnesty for surrendered BRA fighters; rehabilitation of the Bougainville economy; administrative arrangements for a proposed restoration programme; the future of Resistance forces; and the future structure of provincial government on Bougainville (see Appendix 3). A specific provision lifted the restrictions of movement and bounties on Kabui, Ona and Kauona to enable them to participate in the peace dialogue through the BTG. Following the fourth consultation, in August, a further statement of Areas of Common Understanding was issued.

While these consultations were in progress the BTG was also moving on two other fronts: a structure of village and regional councils of chiefs was being formulated as a basis for a permanent provincial government, and consultations were initiated with the BIG/BRA leadership.

In September and December 1995 delegations from the BTG and the BIG met in Cairns for formal consultations, facilitated by the Australian Government. The second meeting was held under the joint chairmanship of representatives of the Secretaries-General of the UN and the Commonwealth, and in the presence of representatives of the International Commission of Jurists and the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation. It was attended by Kauona and Kabui, and agreed to continue the dialogue process and to allow access to the island by UNICEF and other health care workers (see Appendix 4).

On their way back from the Cairns meeting in December, while crossing from the Solomon Islands, the BIG/BRA leaders were fired upon by Papua New Guinea security forces. The Papua New Guinea Government responded to their outraged protests by pointing out that the BIG/BRA leaders had declined offers of secured transport and had not informed the government of their travel plans; but there was a widespread feeling that the incident could have been a deliberate attempt at assassination. In the wake of recriminations, Chan announced that there was no likelihood of further talks outside Papua New Guinea.

In the weeks that followed BRA military activity escalated. Following the killing of eleven members of the security forces on Buka in March 1996 Chan called off the ceasefire negotiated in 1994 (but frequently breached), referring to the activities of 'criminals who continue to kill, destroy and destabilize the peace'. Chan's frustration was also reflected in his suggestion that special provincial government arrangements for Bougainville might not be extended beyond 1997 (when all provincial governments come fully under the 1994 Organic Law on Provincial Government and Local-Level Governments).

Notwithstanding this, in February-March 1996 the BTG produced a Peace Plan (see Appendix 5). In it the BTG expressed its view that there should be a further one or two meetings on Bougainville

... to complete negotiations on all issues, including the issue of the future political status of Bougainville, and to agree to a political settlement with the National Government by June or September 1996.(5)

It also suggested 'that the possibility for a settlement will now depend on the willingness of the National Government to concede greater autonomy to Bougainville, on the one hand, and the willingness of the BIG and BRA leadership to accept a "compromise" on the other'.(6) The BTG's demands were discussed at a meeting in Port Moresby in June. The Prime Minister's frustration at what he saw as the slow rate of progress was evident, but a memorandum of understanding was signed by Chan and Miriung recording their broad agreement on arrangements for the extension of the transitional government beyond 1997, the possibility of 'some degree of autonomy for Bougainville', the need for local level government, and funding arrangements (see Appendix 6).

It appears, however, that while these negotiations were under way preparations were being made for a major military assault on BRA strongholds. In June 1996 the normal rotation of the two PNGDF infantry battalions did not take place, leaving both battalions (comprising around 1400 troops) on Bougainville; it was subsequently confirmed that an 'all-out assault', Operation High Speed II, was being made against the BRA, with helicopters and patrol boats supplied by Australia some years earlier said to be playing a 'crucial role' in the operation. Despite earlier military intelligence advice to the contrary, the PNGDF's apparent intention was to execute a 'surgical strike' against the BRA leadership on Bougainville. In fact, the security forces gained little ground before withdrawing in mid- July, in effect conceding victory to the BRA. Following up their advantage, in early September BRA fighters attacked PNGDF troops at Kangu Beach in southern Bougainville, killing an estimated twelve and capturing several others. Sources on Bougainville claim that members of the Resistance, angered by the behaviour of security forces personnel towards civilians in the area, assisted in the attack.

In early July, too, there were media reports that a PNGDF patrol boat had attacked Solomon Islands National Reconnaissance and Surveillance Force (SINRSF) personnel at the Solomon Islands border post on Ovau Island (allegedly the latest of more than thirty border violations by Papua New Guinea security forces or armed civilians since March 1996) and that the UN Secretary-General was considering Solomon Islands requests for urgent intervention in the Bougainville conflict (see below).

The present security situation

The BRA

Prior to 1994, Papua New Guinea military intelligence assessments suggested that the security forces did not have the capacity to take and hold the core BRA-controlled areas of south-central Bougainville (assessments which were borne out by events). Following the 1994 Arawa conference there appears to have been some disenchantment with the BIG/BRA leadership among BRA supporters, a number of whom were prepared to take part in post-Arawa reconciliation efforts; particularly significant was the defection of the North Nasioi people, led by Miriung. A campaign by the BIG to downplay the Arawa initiatives and discredit those involved in the formation of the transitional government may have limited the damage to the militant leadership, but there appears to have been a steady drift from the hardcore BRA to the peace process up till early 1996.

Tours of the province (especially in south and central Bougainville) by BTG and other community leaders, the strengthening of local councils of chiefs, the efforts of church, women's and other NGO groups in conflict resolution, and especially a growing weariness of the war and belief that reconciliation and reconstruction was achievable under the Chan government, sustained this trend. Continuing instances of excesses by the security forces and local Resistance forces, however, have hindered the process, and the termination of the ceasefire and launching of Operation High Speed II further undermined the reconciliation process. More recently, actions by the security forces to move people out of villages in south and central Bougainville (in an attempt to create free fire zones) and to relocate and consolidate care centres (consequentially, and unfortunately, renamed 'concentration centres'), without provision for gardens or food supplies, has resulted in some drift of people back into the bush, and thus into the arms of the BRA.

Though figures are unreliable, BTG sources estimate that there are around 400-500 BRA permanently under arms, concentrated in the Buin, Siwai, Kongara-Panguna and, to a lesser extent, Wakunai areas. But numbers can vary with the situation and there is a large pool of young men without education or jobs, and with easy access to weapons. There is some evidence of fresh recruitment by the BRA over recent weeks. The BRA is said to have a quantity of automatic and semi-automatic weapons (estimates range from less than 100 to 500), including several reconditioned World War II machine guns; around 500-700 shotguns and rifles, and 800-1000 home-made weapons. There is reported to be a continuing inflow of weapons through the Solomon Islands. Ammunition has been mainly captured or stolen from the PNGDF and police.

However, The BRA is factionalized; its military organization tends to be localized, loose and fractious, and there are political differences between hardliners (led by Ona, who was quoted by BIG spokesman John Zale as saying in July 1996: 'There can be no ceasefires, no peace talks, no negotiations only independence'(7)) and an apparently increasing number of moderates.

The PNGDF

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Within the PNGDF morale has been low for some years. Apart from dissatisfaction over pay, allowances and general conditions in the field, many soldiers have felt that military success has been denied them by political indecision. The failure of Operation High Speed II may have dispelled that notion but will have lowered morale further. At senior levels, the decision of the Papua New Guinea Government (and the advice of Australian defence specialists) not to accede to the PNGDF's demands for new, more sophisticated materiel, and to concentrate rather on the PNGDF's civic role, has added to the disgruntlement. Discipline has been a problem in the PNGDF and relations between the security forces generally and the civil government have been severely strained on several occasions since 1989. Relations between Chan and PNGDF Commander Brigadier General Jerry Singirok appear to have been good, but questions have been asked about Singirok's judgement and managerial ability following the ill-fated Operation High Speed II.

Bougainvillean sources suggest that the security forces have been much more aggressive since early 1996 and that there has been an increasing incidence of civil rights abuses (allegedly, the Prime Minister ordered the removal of one officer, who was court-martialled over civil rights violations, but he remains on Bougainville and has been cited in further allegations of abuse of high-profile civilians). The recent relocation of people from villages to care centres seems likely to exacerbate such problems.

Relations between the security forces, and the BTG and other Bougainvillean leaders are poor; there is a general distrust of the BTG on the part of the security forces, and little communication between the two. (In August 1996 Premier Miriung was ordered off Bougainville when he arrived from Buka to open a church-backed women's peace conference, and in September PNGDF sources and the Minister for Defence accused him of being implicated in the Kangu Beach attack - an accusation vigorously denied - and placed him under house arrest.)

The Resistance

Resistance forces were first organized on Buka around 1990 as a local militia (the Buka Liberation Front) opposed to the BRA. Subsequently Resistance forces operated throughout the province, being armed and supported by the security forces, who relied on them for local knowledge, military intelligence, and manpower. The Resistance appears to have lapsed in 1994, with a number of Resistance fighters joining the BTG. However there has been a resurgence of Resistance forces during 1996, and the Resistance seems to have taken up the security forces' more aggressive attitude towards anyone suspected of BIG/BRA sympathies. To counter the divisive potential of Resistance activities against other Bougainvilleans Premier Miriung has been pressing for the disarming of Resistance forces and the integration of local security forces (or 'home guards') into the provincial government structure.(9)

The political environment

When Chan, as Foreign Minister, took over the primary responsibility for handling the Bougainville situation in early 1994, there was optimism among Bougainvilleans that conditions might improve. This optimism was seen to be confirmed when, on becoming Prime Minister, Chan listed the Bougainville crisis as his first priority, met with Kauona in Honiara and proceeded with arrangements for the Arawa peace conference. Subsequently, despite reservations within his administration and perhaps on his own part, Chan facilitated the creation of the BTG and sanctioned the BTG's negotiations, outside Papua New Guinea, with the BIG/BRA.

But Chan was deeply disappointed at the breakdown of the Arawa conference and angry at the BIG/BRA leadership's failure to attend; on several occasions after the conference he has referred to the BRA leaders as 'criminals'. He also appears to have been disappointed that the BTG has not made more rapid progress in restoring peace and establishing an administrative structure capable of restoring services. This was evident at the June 1996 consultations between Chan and the BTG, which nevertheless produced a broad agreement. With national and (for the first time) local elections looming in mid-1997 Chan is clearly anxious to achieve a settlement; the unsuccessful adventure with Operation High Speed II, however, seems to have created a policy vacuum at the national level.

On Bougainville there is undoubtedly a groundswell of opinion in favour of peace and reconciliation (the recent womens' peace conference at Arawa in August 1996(10) is a manifestation of this groundswell), and significant progress has been made in reestablishing a political structure for restoring civil administration; legislation establishing local-level government is currently (September 1996) before the BTG Assembly. But events since 1988 have not only divided communities along pro-BRA/pro-government lines, and frequently along generational lines, they have opened up numerous old animosities and created new ones. Excesses by the security forces, BRA fighters, and Resistance fighters have created bases for lasting bitterness, and the conflict has produced a pool of young people deprived of education and socialized into a culture of war.

With the closure of the mine, and the destruction of gardens, plantations and infrastructure, rehabilitation will be slow. The financial crisis which has faced the national government since 1994, a result of fiscal indiscipline, limits its capacity to fund recovery, especially when other parts of the country have experienced a decline in government services prior to the beginning of the Bougainville conflict. Some attempts are now being made to reestablish health and education services on Bougainville but reports suggest that, even in government-controlled areas in south and central Bougainville, food and medicines are scarce. International assistance is available but requires an administrative structure for its delivery. (In recent weeks, following the relocation of people in south Bougainville, newly-reconstructed schools and health centres are understood to have been destroyed by the BRA.) (11)

Popular support remains strong on Bougainville for a substantial degree of autonomy. It is unlikely that any political settlement can be reached without special arrangements being made to extend the transitional government arrangements beyond 1997 and eventually accept arrangements which would differ from those in Papua New Guinea's other provinces. This will require amendment of the Organic Law on Provincial Government and Local-Level Governments.(12) At present there are doubts as to whether the National Parliament will accept such an amendment; in July Opposition leader Roy Yaki warned against granting autonomy, which he described as 'an easy way out'.(13) As against this, remembering the anarchy which followed the withdrawal of the security forces in 1990, most Bougainvilleans seem to believe that, in the absence of a multinational peacekeeping force, the continued presence of the Papua New Guinea government's security forces is, at present, preferable to what might ensue if they were withdrawn.

External relations

Leaving aside, for the moment, Papua New Guinea's relations with Australia, the Bougainville conflict has impacted on Papua New Guinea's external relations in three directions. Firstly, to the west, Indonesia is now more inclined to see Papua New Guinea as a source of regional instability, and with the PNGDF committed to Bougainville is more likely to act unilaterally against its West Papuan insurgency, which is concentrated in the Indonesia-Papua New Guinea border area. This, however, does not appear to be a major consideration for Papua New Guinea, which since 1986 has had a cooperative relationship with Indonesia over border management. Secondly, the Bougainville conflict has now attracted significant concern from international sources, which often, simplistically, equate the Papua New Guinea government's actions in Bougainville with those of, say, the Indonesian government in East Timor. By restricting media access to Bougainville and on several occasions refusing entry to concerned international groups, Papua New Guinea - and particularly the security forces - has sometimes provoked criticism. There is little doubt that the Bougainville conflict has harmed Papua New Guinea's international reputation,(14) especially among human rights groups and at the UN.

Papua New Guinea - Solomon Islands Relations

Thirdly, and more significantly, the Bougainville conflict has created tensions between Papua New Guinea and its eastern neighbour, the Solomon Islands, and attracted UN attention. Since 1989 - and especially since the 1990 blockade of Bougainville - the western islands of the Solomon Islands have provided a place of refuge for displaced Bougainvillean villagers (in 1994 there were estimated to be some 2000 Bougainvillean refugees in the Solomon Islands) and a source of medical and other supplies, including weapons and ammunition, for the BRA. The Solomon Islands has also been a point of entry for outside journalists and activists, and the BIG has maintained an office in Honiara. Some Solomon Islands politicians have openly expressed support for Bougainville independence(15) and Solomon Islands Prime Minister Solomon Mamaloni is generally regarded as having sympathies for the BRA.

In 1990 the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding ... on the Combined Surveillance Programme of the Common International Border, though the Solomon Islands rejected Papua New Guinea proposals concerning 'hot pursuit' and extradition. The following year, however, there were complaints from Papua New Guinea that the Solomon Islands Police Field Force was not arresting illegal border crossers, and members of the PNGDF's Small Boats Team made several incursions into Solomon Islands territory. In March 1992 the Bougainville conflict spilled over the international border in a more serious way when Papua New Guinea security forces raided a Solomon Islands village and destroyed a fuel dump used by the BRA. In apologising to his Solomon Islands counterpart Papua New Guinea's then Prime Minister Namaliu said that although his government did not condone the action, 'this sort of thing is bound to happen' if the Solomon Islands did not cooperate in preventing the use of its territory by the BRA.(16) Further incursions took place in 1992 and 1993; in one of these, members of the Papua New Guinea security forces raised the Papua New Guinea flag on the island of Omea, inside Solomon Islands territory.

In July 1992 Mamaloni and Papua New Guinea's incoming Prime Minister Wingti resolved to adopt 'a comprehensive and mutually agreed approach' to border management (the so-called 'Vila Declaration'), but following a further incident in September Mamaloni was quoted as suggesting that the Solomon Islands government expel the Papua New Guinea High Commissioner from Honiara, recognize the rebel Republic of Bougainville, and request Australian troops to patrol the border;(17) the chairman of the Solomon Islands' Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee subsequently delivered a report on the subject to the UN Security Council. The rift widened when Prime Minister Wingti accused Mamaloni of meddling in Papua New Guinea's affairs after Mamaloni had publicly supported critiques, by Papua New Guinea's Islands Region premiers, of proposed provincial government reforms, and following publication of a letter from Mamaloni to Deputy Prime Minister Chan criticizing Papua New Guinea's handling of the Bougainville situation.

Notwithstanding these tensions, in February 1993 the Foreign Ministers of the two countries agreed on a draft bilateral 'framework treaty', and in April Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands officials held talks which produced agreement on a range of issues including joint border surveillance, repatriation of Bougainvillean refugees, and closure of the BIG office in Honiara. Shortly after this Mamaloni was replaced as Solomon Islands Prime Minister by Francis Billy Hilly, and at a South Pacific Forum meeting following his election Hilly announced a six-point initiative to normalize relations with Papua New Guinea.(18) Early in 1994 Deputy Prime Minister Chan visited Honiara, presenting a compensation payment in respect of the earlier incursions by Papua New Guinea security forces, and pursuing proposals for a Pan-Bougainville Peace Conference. The Solomon Islands Government subsequently played an important role in facilitating a meeting between Chan and Kauona and encouraging moves towards the October 1994 peace conference in Arawa.

Between late 1994 and early 1996, movement across the Solomon Islands-Papua New Guinea border and attempts by the Papua New Guinea security forces to control it, and the continuing presence of the BIG in Honiara, remained points of contention but (notwithstanding the return of Mamaloni as Solomon Islands Prime Minister in November 1994) relations between the two countries were generally amiable. Indeed the presence of the BIG made it easier to pursue the peace dialogue.

However, with the resumption of hostilities in 1996 relations again deteriorated. In January 1996 the BIG office and house of Miriori in Honiara was burned down, supposedly by members of the Papua New Guinea security forces or the Resistance. In March-April Papua New Guinea Defence Minister Ijape renewed attacks on the Solomon Islands for supporting the BRA and there were several reports of border incursions into the Solomon Islands by the Papua New Guinea security forces and other 'armed but unidentified' Papua New Guineans. An exchange of fire occurred between the PNGDF and the Solomon Islands Police Field Force. Within the Solomon Islands there were calls for the recognition of independent Bougainville. Mamaloni expressed regret at the lifting of the ceasefire and urged the Papua New Guinea Government to pursue peace negotiations. Solomon Islands Deputy Prime Minister, Danny Philip suggested that it was time to repatriate some 1000 Bougainvilleans resident in the Solomon Islands, provided Papua New Guinea could guarantee their safe passage. The following month, at the request of the UNHCR and the Solomon Islands Government, an Australian Defence Force aircraft was used to airlift Miriori and his family from Honiara in view of threats against his life (Miriori took up residence in the Netherlands).

In early June, in what was described as the most serious incident since 1992, it was reported that a Papua New Guinea patrol boat had fired on the Solomon Island village of Liuliu on northern Choiseul. The Solomon Islands Government formally protested and claimed compensation for eighteen other incursions by Papua New Guinea nationals in the past two months.(19) Chan's attempt to justify the incursions, and suggestions by both Chan and Defence Minister Ijape that the Solomon Islands Government was turning a blind eye to the shipment of arms through the Solomon Islands to the BRA, brought further protests from the Solomon Islands Government. The situation was exacerbated when a PNGDF helicopter reportedly entered Solomon Islands territory in hot pursuit of suspected BRA members, killing several, and by a further incident in early July in which a PNGDF patrol boat fired on Solomon Islands Police Field Force personnel in what the SINRSF commander described as 'acts of war' and a 'disproportionate response' to the border situation.

In June 1996 it was announced that the UN Secretary-General had agreed to a Solomon Islands request for UN intervention to oversee the international border.

Papua New Guinea-Australia relations and Bougainville

By virtue of their long historical association, geographical proximity, and substantial common interests, Papua New Guinea and Australia have shared a close relationship.(20) For several years, however, relations between Australia and Papua New Guinea have been undergoing a slow transformation. In part this has had to do with a change of political generation in both Australia and Papua New Guinea and with an emerging nationalism in Papua New Guinea which has sought to move away from a colonial relationship. (This tendency was expressed, for example, in Prime Minister Wingtis 'Look North' policy.) In part it has been prompted by resentment (particularly on the part of Sir Julius Chan) over changes in the form of Australia's development assistance to Papua New Guinea. Recent developments on Bougainville have placed further strains on the relationship.

Since the Bougainville conflict began, Australian policy has been to support the authority of the Papua New Guinea Government over a unified Papua New Guinea. This policy was stated by then Prime Minister Hawke in Port Moresby in September 1990:

We fully support the Papua New Guinea Government's resolute commitment to a political solution and we agree with you that Bougainville must remain an integral part of Papua New Guinea.

Australia has supplied military assistance, through the Defence Cooperation Program, and humanitarian aid, it has made a number of representations on human rights issues, and it has supported and facilitated talks between the national government and the BTG on the one hand, and the BIG/BRA on the other.

In 1991 the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, in its report, Australia's Relations with Papua New Guinea, addressed the question of 'Australia and the Bougainville Crisis'. It noted that 'Australia was not directly involved in the Bougainville crisis' (p.191), but went on to say (p.192):

a recognition of Papua New Guinea's sovereignty and integrity has had to be balanced by legitimate humanitarian concerns and the ability of Australia to offer assistance in the negotiation of a settlement or in the alleviation of suffering on the island.

Among its recommendations were:

- that Australia adopt a more active diplomatic role in trying to resolve the impasse between the Bougainvilleans and the Papua New Guinea Government (Recommendation 45);

- that on providing gifts of military equipment to Papua New Guinea the Australian and Papua New Guinea Governments should develop clear and agreed guidelines about how the equipment will be used (Recommendation 47); and

- that the Australian Government should do more to encourage Papua New Guinea to investigate human rights abuses (Recommendation 48).

Almost four years later the Australian Parliamentary Delegation to Bougainville broadly endorsed these recommendations; it concluded that:

- there can be no military solution to the conflict on Bougainville. Equally .... secession through force of arms is not an option;

- The current [Papua New Guinea Government] policy [of confidence building, restoration and rehabilitation] needs to be consistently and vigorously pursued and financially supported; and

- ... through AIDAB or its Defence Cooperation Program Australia offer assistance to identify priorities in the restoration program and assist in the delivery of humanitarian aid to Bougainville.(21)

The Australian Government played a significant role in facilitating talks which led to the Endeavour Accord of 1990 and the Honiara Declaration of 1991, notwithstanding a good deal of suspicion towards Australia on the part of the BRA.(22) And, following the visit of the Australian Parliamentary Delegation, it assisted in setting up the 1994 peace conference in Arawa and in arranging the dialogue between the BTG and BIG in Cairns during September and December 1995.

The Defence Cooperation Program (DCP)

Under this program Australia has supported the PNGDF, mainly through payment of salaries of Australian personnel serving with the PNGDF, costs of training, and mutually agreed major projects. DCP payments rose from $15.7 million in 1975/76 to $24.3 million in 1987/88, then increased to a peak of $52.1 million in 1990/91, thereafter declining to $14.6 million in 1995/96 and a budgetted $12 million in 1996/97.

In 1989, in response to requests made well before the Bougainville crisis, Australia gave Papua New Guinea four Iroquois helicopters. At the time they were handed over conditions were attached to the use of the helicopters, stipulating that they be used for transport, surveillance and medivac purposes, but not as gunships. In fact, there were allegations that the helicopters were being used offensively in 1990 and in 1991 it was admitted that they had been used in effect as gunships, and that the bodies of six alleged BRA sympathizers, executed by PNGDF soldiers, had been dumped at sea from the helicopters. The admission generated considerable controversy, though the view was put strongly at the time that the attaching of such conditions to military equipment was impracticable.(23)

In the context of the June 1996 military offensive by the PNGDF, and specifically with reference to the involvement of Australian-supplied helicopters and patrol boats in incursions into Solomon Islands territory, questions concerning the use of Australian-supplied military equipment have been raised again. There is a growing call within Australia to cut Australian military assistance to Papua New Guinea. As against this the Papua New Guinea Government has reacted by objecting to the imposition of conditions on the use of Australian-supplied equipment and threatening to seek other sources of supply (Malaysia, Singapore and Israel have been mentioned as possible alternative sources).

Development assistance

Since 1990-91 Australia has provided development assistance for humanitarian purposes and restoration of services on Bougainville, both directly to the Papua New Guinea Government and to the Red Cross and other NGOs. Currently, AusAID funding is supporting care centres, the restoration of health centres, and NGO activities in community development and conflict resolution. The provision of assistance has been constrained, however, by the lack of capacity for service delivery and sometimes by restrictions on access imposed by the Papua New Guinea Government or the security forces.

Recent developments

At the time of the lifting of the ceasefire in March 1996, the recently-elected government of John Howard - which had committed itself to giving 'a significantly higher priority to assisting Papua New Guinea ... in resolution of internal difficulties that are occurring on Bougainville'(24)- expressed concern at the move and called for the peace process to be revived.(25) Subsequently Foreign Minister Downer condemned the June 1996 military offensive against the BRA and suggested that 'an attempt to achieve a military solution ... will simply exacerbate the situation'.(26) This brought a quick response from Papua New Guinea: at a conference in Sydney in late June Papua New Guinea Defence Minister Ijape reportedly complained that Australia had 'consistently misunderstood the nature of the [Bougainville] conflict', and Foreign Secretary Dusava said that Australia's criticism could jeopardize bilateral relations.(27) Prime Minister Chan reacted in even stronger terms, saying that, by harboring 'separatist leaders',(28) Australia and the Solomon Islands had exacerbated the Bougainville conflict; he went on to express disappointment that 'The new Government does not seem to have any innovative policy in respect of the special relationship between our two countries.'(29)

Shortly after this Foreign Minister Downer responded to reports of the incursion by a PNGDF helicopter into Solomon Islands territory by stating: 'This is a serious incident. There is no doubt that Australian-supplied helicopters are not to be used for military purposes',(30) and Opposition Foreign Affairs spokesman Brereton called on the government to review Australian defence support for Papua New Guinea to ensure that no direct support was given to the offensive on Bougainville.(31) Among other sources, Community Aid Abroad supported the call for a review of Australian support for the PNGDF(32) and one Australian journalist proposed that the government 'slash all official aid' to Papua New Guinea.(33) In late July Foreign Minister Downer, while offering Australian assistance in arranging further peace talks, warned that further breaches of the conditions attached to the use of the helicopters supplied by Australia in 1989 could place the Australian Defence Cooperation Program at risk.

This prompted a further strong reaction from Chan, who, in reply to a question in the Papua New Guinea National Parliament, strongly criticized Downer's statement, accusing Australia of failing to understand the situation on Bougainville, having a 'paternalistic mentality', and condoning 'treasonous actions' against Papua New Guinea; he also informed the Parliament that he had requested a review of the DCP by the PNGDF, with the possibility that it be discontinued.(34) In September, on the eve of the annual Papua New Guinea-Australian ministerial forum (and coincident with reports of the killing of twelve PNGDF soldiers in a BRA ambush at Kangu Beach in southern Bougainville), Papua New Guinea's Foreign Minister described a further Australian offer to facilitate peace talks as 'farcical' and suggested that 'the Bougainville problem is largely an Australian-created problem'.(35) However, by the time the forum concluded relations appear to have recovered sufficiently for the two countries to have agreed to a joint review of the DCP and to changes in the general aid relationship, including provision of urgent humanitarian assistance to the care centres on Bougainville.(36)

Recent developments have highlighted the growing tensions in the Australia-Papua New Guinea relationship. On their part, Australian Governments have been reluctant to admit (a statement by then Defence Minister Senator Robert Ray notwithstanding(37)) that the attaching of conditons to military assistance is impractable and deeply offensive to Papua New Guinea's sense of sovereignty. On the other hand, Papua New Guinea's leaders seem to underestimate the growing domestic and international pressure (poorly informed though it often is) on Australia to exert its influence to restrain military excesses by Papua New Guinea on Bougainville and help bring about a peaceful settlement.

For Australia, the problem is one of balance: being seen neither as excessively interventionist nor insufficiently engaged. The scope for substantial changes in Australian policy on Bougainville seems to be limited. Attempts to dictate action to the Papua New Guinea Government (for example by tying aid to policy actions) is likely to be either ineffective (as it has been in the case of the helicopters) of counter-productive. Cutting the DCP would further weaken the security forces and exacerbate existing problems of capability, discipline and funding, with implications beyond Bougainville. Attaching conditions to military assistance may give Australia some leverage but would perpetuate frictions and probably remain ineffective. Sensitively made offers of assistance, however, may be productive.

Specifically: the propects for a peaceful settlement would seem to depend critically on

  1. the continuation of dialogue between the national government and the BTG, and between the BTG and the BIG/BRA;
  2. the establishment of an administrative structure at provincial and local level which will enable the restoration of government services and provide the basis for establishment of a lasting political settlement; and
  3. social and economic rehabilitation. In all of these, the viability and credibility of the BTG seems essential. Particularly in view of the degree of mutual distrust which seems to exist between the national government, the military, the BTG, and the BIG/BRA (especially between the BTG and the military), Australia may be able to play a useful role in achieving the first of these preconditions, and possibly to provide technical assistance in the second; Australia is already assisting, through AusAID, in the third. The Australian Government might also be expected to make representations, as it has in the past, in instances where human rights violations have occurred.

Conclusion

After six years of largely unsuccessful political negotiation and military operations, the October 1994 peace conference in Arawa promised to achieve a breakthrough in the conflict between the national government and the BIG/BRA. Although the non-attendance of the BIG/BRA leadership undermined the effectiveness of the conference, a dialogue was established between the national government and a Bougainville Transitional Government, and between the BTG and the BIG/BRA, and steps were taken to reestablish effective governance in the province. At the beginning of 1996 prospects for a peaceful settlement in Bougainville looked good. An escalation of fighting in early 1996, however, led to the lifting of the 1994 ceasefire and subsequently a major - but essentially unsuccessful - military assault on BRA strongholds.

The failure of Operation High Speed II has boosted the confidence of the BRA and further lowered the morale of the security forces. Incidentally, it has also rendered more difficult the task of the BTG, which has from the outset been regarded with suspicion by both the security forces and some in the national government. Further, repeated incursions into Solomon Islands territory, and exchanges between Papua New Guinea and Australia over the use of Australian-supplied military equipment, have created tensions in the relationships between Papua New Guinea and its eastern and southern neighbours.

If the ground lost in 1996 is to be regained, it is essential that the Papua New Guinea Government:

- recognize the critical role to be played by the BTG (and eventually by a provincial government enjoying special autonomy arrangements);

- facilitate the process of rehabilitation and restoration in Bougainville; and

- seriously address the difficulties in its present relations with the Solomon Islands and Australia.

For its part, Australia has a potential role to play:

- in facilitating dialogue between the various parties to the Bougainville conflict;

- in assisting in the establishment of a viable administrative structure in Bougainville; and

- in providing humanitarian and infrastructural assistance.

In the area of defence cooperation, Australia must balance its policy objectives of avoiding direct involvement in the Bougainville conflict on the one hand and, on the other, supporting the constitutional order.

Endnotes

  1. The North Solomons Province (prior to 1975 known as Bougainville District) comprises the islands of Buka to the north, the 'mainland' island of Bougainville, and a number of small offshore islands. Since the present conflict began in 1988 the province has generally been referred to as Bougainville and draft legislation to amend the North Solomons provincial constitution proposes that the province be renamed Bougainville.

    There are some twenty-two languages in the province, with Nasioi being the main language in the area of the mine site.

  2. There are currently estimated to be around 70 000 people in care centres. The province's population, which has not been assessed since the 1980 census, has been given by Papua New Guinea sources as 168 000, which is almost certainly an overestimate.
  3. For a detailed review of the Bougainville conflict up to 1994 see R.J. May and M. Spriggs (eds), The Bougainville Crisis, M. Spriggs and D. Denoon (eds), The Bougainville Crisis: 1991 Update, and other references listed under 'Further Reading'.
  4. See, for example, M. Spriggs, 'The failure of the Bougainville peace talks', Pacific Research 7(4) 1994, pp. 19-23.
  5. Bougainville Transitional Government, Peace Plan 1996, p. 11.
  6. ibid., p. 10.
  7. Australian, 31 July 1996; Post-Courier, 1 August 1996.
  8. For a more detailed analysis of the PNGDF see R.J. May, The Changing Role of the Military in Papua New Guinea.
  9. See the reports of a meeting of Resistance fighters on Buka in the Post-Courier, 11 and 25 January 1996.
  10. For a report on this conference see Sun-Herald, 8 September 1996.
  11. See for example, Post-Courier, 3 September 1996.
  12. For background on these developments see Derek Woolner, Papua New Guinea: 20 Years On, Parliamentary Research Service, Research Paper No. 4 1995-96.
  13. Quoted in the Weekend Australian, 20-21 July 1996.
  14. An interesting recent development is the support for Bougainville independence expressed by the King of Tonga. See Matangi Tonga, July-September 1996, p. 12.
  15. See, for example, Islands Business Pacific, April 1992, p. 12.
  16. Post-Courier, 20 March 1992.
  17. Post-Courier, 15 and 17 September 1992
  18. For a detailed report, see Helen Fraser in Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter, October-November 1993.
  19. Canberra Times, 5 June 1996; Australian, 12 June 1996.
  20. For a detailed discussion of Australia's relations with Papua New Guinea, see the 1991 report of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (JCFADT) entitled Australia's Relations with Papua New Guinea.
  21. Bougainville: A Pacific Solution. Report of the Visit of the Australian Parliamentary Delegation to Bougainville 18-22 April 1994, pp. 43-44.
  22. This factor is addressed in JCFADT, op.cit. pp. 190-91.
  23. This subject is discussed in detail in JCFADT, op. cit. pp. 193-96, and in submissions to the Joint Committee. Also see R.J. May, The Changing Role of the Military in Papua New Guinea, pp.22-23.
  24. Insight, 25 March 1996, p. 20.
  25. Weekend Australian, 23-24 March.
  26. Sydney Morning Herald, 19 and 25 June 1996.
  27. Weekend Australian, 29-30 June 1996.
  28. The reference to separatist leaders in Australia was presumably a reference to BIG spokesmen Moses Havini and Mike Forster.
  29. Sydney Morning Herald, 3 July 1996.
  30. As reported in the Australian, 5 July 1996.
  31. Canberra Times, 5 July 1996.
  32. Australian, 9 July 1996, p. 12.
  33. Brian Toohey, Canberra Times, 6 July 1996.
  34. Post-Courier, 31 July 1996; Sydney Morning Herald, 31 July 1996.
  35. Australian, 13 September 1996.
  36. Weekend Australian, 14-15 September 1996.
  37. Post-Courier, 13 August 1991.

Further Reading

Amnesty International. Papua New Guinea 'Under the Barrel of a Gun': Bougainville 1991 to 1993. [np] 1993. [ASA 34/5/96].

Australia. Parliament. Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, 1991. Australia's Relations with Papua New Guinea. Canberra, The Parliament, 1991.

Australia. Parliamentary Delegation to Bougainville. Bougainville: A Pacific Solution. Report of the Visit of the Australian Parliamentary Delegation to Bougainville, 18-22 April 1994. Canberra, AGPS, 1994.

Liria, Y.A. Bougainville Campaign Diary. Melbourne, Indra Publishing, 1993.

May, R.J. The Changing Role of the Military in Papua New Guinea. Canberra Papers on Strategy and Defence No. 101. Canberra, Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University, 1993.

May, R.J. & Spriggs, M. (eds) The Bougainville Crisis. Bathurst, Crawford House Press, 1990.

Oliver, D. Black Islanders. A Personal Perspective on Bougainville 1937-1991. Melbourne, Hyland House, 1991.

Rogge, J.R.(ed.) The Rehabilitation of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea: A Needs Assessment and Program Proposal. Draft report of a United Nations Inter-Agency Mission on Behalf of the UN Resident Coordinator for Papua New Guinea at the Request of the Government of Papua New Guinea. Port Moresby, 17 May 1995.

Spriggs, M. 'The failure of the Bougainville peace talks', Pacific Research 7(4) 1994, pp.19-23.

Spriggs, M. & Denoon, D. (eds) The Bougainville Crisis: 1991 Update. Political and Social Change Monograph 16. Bathurst, Department of Political and Social Change, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University in association with Crawford House Press, 1992.

Standish, B. Bougainville: Undermining the State in Papua New Guinea, Legislative Research Service Background Paper. Canberra, The Parliament, 1989.

Australian-Papua New Guinea Friendship Association Inc. & Australian Institute of International Affairs (NSW Branch). Papua New Guinea: Security and Defence in the Nineties and Beyond 2000. Conference Proceedings, 28 June 1996.

'A legacy of development: three years of crisis in Bougainville' Special Issue of The Contemporary Pacific 4(2) 1992.

Appendices

Papua New Guinea Crest

Appendix 1

The Charter of Mirigini for a New Bougainville

Preamble

1. We, the leaders of the National Government and the people of Bougainville having met in Waigani, determined as partners to continue the peace process on Bougainville, commit ourselves under this Charter to a new spirit, a new deal for a new Bougainville.

2. In pursuance of the Resolution of the Bougainville Peace Conference held in Arawa from 10 - 14 October 1994, including the Agreement signed on 18 October 1994 between North Nasioi Village Council of Chiefs and the National Government, hereby resolve to step up the pace and momentum of bringing normalcy, services and legal authority to Bougainville by doing the following:

Transitional Political Arrangement

3. Under this Charter, the National Government will, in the framework of the Constitution, its relevant acts and subject to the completion of preparatory work, arrange for the establishment of a transitional legal body.

4. The National Government has agreed with the Bougainville leaders to establish a transitional legal body by March 1995, for Bougainville. This body will be known as the Bougainville Transitional Government which shall exercise all powers and functions as set out in the Organic Law on Provincial Government.

5. The Bougainville Transitional Government will have an Assembly comprising of leaders nominated by Councils of Chiefs from each interim authority area.

6. The Assembly of the Transitional Government will act as a Constituent Assembly to review the Constitution of the North Solomons Provincial Government after a negotiated settlement is reached between the National Government and the Bougainville Transitional Government.

Political Settlement

7. The National Government and Bougainville leaders hereby declare this Charter as their commitment to an active programme for consultations and negotiations on a political settlement and that the parties shall agree on a structured programme for these talks by 31 December 1994.

8. The leaders agree that the starting point for consultations and negotiations on a new deal for Bougainville is to review the Bougainville Agreement of 1976 at the next round of talks.

Other Dialogue

9. The National Government and Bougainville leaders will maintain dialogue on all other issues pertinent to the resolution of the crises, including a programme of reconciliation, reconstruction and restoration of services in Bougainville.

Declared at Waigani on the 25th day of November 1994.

For National Government

Rt Hon Sir Julius Chan GCMG KBE MP
Prime Minister

Hon Arnold Marsipal MP
Minister for State Assisting the Prime Minister

Hon Castan Maibawa MP
Minister for Provincial Affairs and Village Services

For Bougainville Province

Mr Nick Penial
Chairman (South-West Interim Authority)

Mr Thomas Anis
Buka Interim Authority

Mr Theodore Miriung
Interim Chairman (North Nasioi Village Council of Chiefs)

Hon John Momis MP
Regional Member of Bougainville and Minister for Communications

Appendix 2

The Rt. Hon. Sir Julius Chan GCMG, KBE, MP
Prime Minister
&
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade

Address to the Nation
on Bougainville Developments

Port Moresby
31 March 1995

My fellow Papua New Guineans

You will recall that from the first day of my Government's operations, I made a firm pledge that a solution to the Bougainville crisis was my number one priority. Nothing has changed.

The price of peace, as with freedom, is eternal vigilance.

As we enter the final 10 days before the swearing-in of the Bougainville Transitional Government, we are assured of clinching peace.

Peace is necessary to rebuild the shattered lives of the Bougainville people.

In the past six months, I believe there can have been no doubting the integrity of my Government's commitment to resolving the Bougainville situation. In our short period in office. I have worked, and I know others have worked, tirelessly.

You will recall my very first act upon gaining the Prime Ministership was to embark on a lonely journey to Honiara in search of peace. I met with Sam Kauona on the 2nd and 3rd of September, and this resulted in the signing of the Honiara Commitments. Since then we have had a ceasefire agreement, the Arawa peace conference in October, the signing of the Charter of Mirigini in November, committing me to a time table to Parliament's establishing of the Bougainville Transitional Government by March. Ten days from now on the 10th of April, we will have the swearing-in of the Members of that Government.

And all this time, quietly in the background, there has been a slow but ongoing programme of restoration, rebuilding and rehabilitation.

My Government has not backed down from its commitment to Bougainville despite the nation's financial woes, natural disasters and its commitment to major projects such as Lihir.

We. will continue to make it our number one priority. We will look for peace, and we will keep working, striving and praying for peace until it is finally and totally achieved.

There is nothing passive in our commitment. It is action - all action - and let that fact be a timely reminder to those elements who stand against peace and for violence. It is fair to say that I and my Government are concerned at information and intelligence that reveals a build-up in BRA activities.

We, as a responsible Government, will not shrink from our responsibility to protect the people. As Prime Minister, I cannot allow attacks on innocent civilians who simply want to exercise their right to live in peace, or on our soldiers who are as vulnerable as sitting ducks.

We will do what is necessary to protect the people. We will make the hard decisions; we will take the tough action.

We the Government, and the people of Bougainville, are fiercely determined.

The people of Bougainville will have peace, and you can be a part of it. Put down your weapons and join the only decent fight there is on Bougainville - the fight for peace.

Then you will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with real heroes - the good people of Bougainville who are pursuing peace with absolute courage.

Peace will reign on Bougainville because those who work and create things will always have final victory over those who would destroy.

I say to all thinking people: Seek peace.

The Pope brought that message to us here in Papua New Guinea at the beginning of this year that he announced as the Year of Peace.

1, too, am determined that it shall be a year of peace - God willing, may our goal be achieved.

Appendix 3

THE WAIGANI-COMMUNIQUE

The Prime Minister and the Leader of the National Government Delegation of Papua New Guinea, the Rt Hon Sir Julius Chan and the Premier and Leader of the Bougainville Transitional Government Delegation, Mr Theodore Miriung having met at Mirigini House, Port Moresby on 18 May, 1995, and:

  • Pursuing the Charter of Mirigini through the establishment of the Bougainville Transitional Government.
  • Noting that the functions of the Bougainville Transitional Government includes a negotiated settlement towards peace, normalcy, services and permanent legal authority to the situation on Bougainville.
  • Committed to their on-going programs for consultations and negotiations, including dialogue on all other issues pertinent to the resolution of the Bougainville situation, such as,
(i) Pardon Amnesty and Temporary Refuge;

(ii) Reconciliation and Compensation

(iii) Restoration of Services and Reconstruction of Bougainville;

(iv) and Others.

  • Taking realistically into account the current situation, including the wishes of the Chiefs, the Bougainville Transitional Government Assembly, various interest groups, other leaders and the people of Bougainville as a whole for peace and unity through the provision of incentives, resources and goodwill.

Having held extensive discussions;

HAVE AGREED as follows:

Amnesty (Pardon) for surrendered BRA

1. That the National Government will grant as from 2400hrs on 18 May 1995, within the framework of the laws of Papua New Guinea, and as part of the overall settlement to the Bougainville crisis Amnesty to various members of illegal and criminal forces, groups and individuals

2. This Amnesty from prosecution will commence from October 1988 to 2400hrs of the date of the signing of this Communique.

3. The National Government also grants as of 2400hrs of 18 May 1995, amnesty for the surrender and destruction of all firearms in possession of these illegal, criminal forces, groups and individuals up to and including a period of fourteen (14) days.

Rehabilitation of Bougainville Economy (Future of Panguna Mine and Plantations)

4. That the rehabilitation of the Bougainville Provincial economy must be approached in the same manner, framework and process applied in respect of the development of resource projects in the rest of the country. That these resource projects shall be looked at as "new projects".

5. That the re-opening of the Panguna Mine shall be base on a re-negotiated arrangement and that proceeds from it also contribute towards the restoration programme in the Province.

6. That compensation for "people" will be addressed in the context of and as part and parcel of the Rehabilitation Programme of the economy. The "people" to be compensated will be categorised by the BTG and settlement will be made with the constraints of resources and capacities of the Province and the National Government.

Future Administrative Arrangements for the Restoration Programme

7. That Bougainville Transitional Government in the interim arrangement must be responsible for the programming and implementation of the 3R Strategy - Restoration Programme.

8. The permanent Government for Bougainville upon it's establishment, will be responsible for the continued programming and implementation of that Progamme.

9. The budgetting, financing and implementation of the 3R Strategy - Restoration Programme shall be the responsibility of the Department of Bougainville.

Future of Resistance Forces

10. That a package will be negotiated to:

(i) recognize the contributions by Resistance Forces;

(ii) consider making appropriate compensation

(iii) re-deploy them to other productive activities within the Province and country as a whole; and

(iv) rehabilitate and re-settle them into normal life.

Future Structure of Provincial Government of Bougainville

11 That a permanent structure of Provincial Government for Bougainville will be installed as soon as possible. This will be the responsibility of the Premier and his Transitional Government to develop and propose to the National Government, taking into account the principles of self-reliance, links and power sharing under the National Constitution.

12. The National Government will lift all restrictions of travel including prize rewards of K200,000 previously set for the apprehension and prosecution of BRA leaders, including Joseph Kabui, Francis Ona and Sam Kauona in order to enable them to become part of; and, participate in the dialogue, goodwill, peace and normalcy through the Bougainville Transitional Government.

Implementation

13. That officials of the National Government and the Bougainville Transitional Government shall carry out detailed negotiations and conclude programmes and projects arising from this Communique and those envisaged in the Charter of Mirigini, and report to the next meeting on 29 May 1995.

Signed at Waigani, on 18th day of May, 1995

RT HON SIR JULIUS CHAN GCMG KBE MP
PRIME MINISTER
NATIONAL GOVERNMENT OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA

MR THEODORE MIRIUNG
PREMIER
BOUGAINVILLE TRANSITIONAL GOVERNMENT

Appendix 4

BOUGAINVILLE LEADERS TALKS

CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA DECEMBER 1 995
JOINT COMMUNIQUE:

ONE

The delegation of the Bougainville Transitional Government (BTG) and the delegation of the Bougainville Interim Government (BIG) held talks in Cairns, Australia, from 14 to 18 December 1995 under the joint chairmanship of the representatives of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and of the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth. A list of participants is at Annex 1.

TWO

The two delegations have agreed to enter into a process of dialogue that will permit the achievement of a political settlement to the Bougainville conflict.

THREE

The delegations of the BTG and of the BIG expressed their intention to convene a new round of Talks in Bougainville in March/April 1996. In order to ensure the success of the Talks, they have agreed to hold a series of preparatory meetings comprised of four members from each side, with the facilitation of the United Nations Secretary-General, at a venue to be determined.

FOUR

Both sides agreed subject to the concurrence of the Papua New Guinea Government to the continued association of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and of the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth in-the on-going discussions and in their eventual outcomes.

FIVE

Representatives of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and the unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO) have participated and may continue to participate in an observer capacity in the Talks. Other non-governmental organisations may be granted similar observer status with the consent of all the parties to the Talks.

SIX

At each round of Talks, the delegations will determine the degree of confidentiality that will apply.

SEVEN

The two sides have reached agreement on the Agenda for the All Bougainville Leaders Talks (Annex 2), it being understood that the discussion of the items need not follow the order in which they are enumerated.

EIGHT

The two sides will endeavour to reach early agreement on the issues covered in the Agenda so that talks may be held between the Government of Papua New Guinea and the Bougainville leadership.

NINE

All parties to the Talks agree on the need for access to be immediately granted throughout Bougainville to UNICEF and relevant donor organisations for the implementation of health care programmes, especially child immunisation.

TEN

In so far as the BTG, the United Nations and the Commonwealth Secretariat are concerned. the understandings contained in this document are subject to the agreement of the Government Of Papua New Guinea.

ELEVEN

The delegations expressed their appreciation to the Government of Australia for the excellent arrangements it had made for hosting the meeting.

TWELVE

The Representatives of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and of the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth will report to the Government of Papua New Guinea on the results of the current talks.

Signed in the presence of the Representatives of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and of the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.

 

Appendix 5

BOUGAINVILLE
TRANSITIONAL GOVERNMENT

PEACE PLAN
1996

Prepared
by the
Policy Secretariat
Bougainville Transitional Government
February 1996

PART I - INTRODUCTION

1.1 Since its establishment on the 10th of April 1995 the Bougainville Transitional Government has initiated a number of steps to meet its objective under the "Charter of Mirigini for a New Bougainville" (Mirigini Charter)

1.2 Most of these steps have jointly been taken with the national Government. These include negotiations with the National Government: starting with the first round held in Port Moresby on the 18th of May 1995 and ending with the fourth round on the 3rd of August 1995. Issues covered in these rounds include pardon and amnesty, an arms amnesty, a commitment to a "new projects" approach for all new developmental projects in the province, a proposed policy on the future of armed youth, their disarmament and rehabilitation, and the future political status of Bougainville. All these are contained in various documents; principally, "the Waigani Communique" and the "Areas of Common Understanding Reached Between the Prime Minister, Sir Julius Chan, and BTG Premier Mr Theodore Miriung on the Occasion of their Fourth Negotiating Session at the Mirigini State House on Thursday 3rd August 1995" (Areas of Common Understanding).

1.3 Before and during negotiations with the National Government, Bougainville leaders had felt that a parallel process of dialogue should be initiated with leaders of the Bougainville Interim Government (BIG) and the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA). For this reason, after the fourth round of talks with the National Government, BTG had initiated two rounds of talks with these leaders outside PNG, with the approval of the National Government. These were held in Cairns, Australia: the first one in September and the second in December 1995. All these have been possible through the assistance of, and facilitation by, the Australian Government.

1.4 From these rounds of talks both with the National Government and with the leaders of BIG and BRA, BTG believes that the foundations have been laid for a political settlement.

1.5 This Peace Plan has been put together from a collection of the common views of leaders of BTG. It is intended to guide BTG leaders in the peace process.

PART II - OBJECTIVES OF THE BOUGAINVILLE TRANSITIONAL GOVERNMENT

2. OBJECTIVES OF THE BOUGAINVILLE TRANSITIONAL GOVERNMENT UNDER THE CHARTER OF MIRIGINI FOR A NEW BOUGAINVILLE and UNDER THE NEW PREAMBLE TO THE AMENDED CONSTITUTION OF THE PROVINCE.

2.1 The Bougainville Transitional Government was established as a transitional arrangement to resolve the Bougainville conflict. Its objectives are set out under the Mirigini Charter, and are more particularly spelled out in the new preamble to the amended Constitution of the province.

2.2 Clause 7 of the Charter provides as follows -

"The National Government and Bougainville leaders hereby declare this Charter as their commitment to an active programme for consultations and negotiations on a political settlement..."

2.3 Clause 8 provides as follows -

"The leaders agree that the starting point for consultations and negotiations on a new deal for Bougainville is to review the Bougainville Agreement of 1976 at the next found of talks".

2.4 In addition the Charter provides that the National Government and Bougainville leaders will maintain dialogue on all other issues pertinent to the resolution of the crisis, including a programme of reconciliation, reconstruction and restoration of services.

2.5 The new preamble to the amended Constitution of Bougainville provides as follows-

"The Bougainville Transitional Government is established as a transitional arrangement to restore the civil authority of the people of Bougainville under the Organic Law on Provincial Government. Apart from running the affairs of the province the Bougainville Transitional Government will be responsible for negotiating a political settlement with the National Government. It is not intended that this body become the ultimate form of government for the province. Under the "Charter of Mirigini for a New Bougainville" signed on the 25 November 1994, Bougainville leaders and leaders of the National Government agreed that after a political settlement is reached between the National Government and the Bougainville Transitional Government the Assembly of the Transitional Government shall act as a Constituent Assembly to review the Constitution of the North Solomons Provincial Government and enact a new Constitution. The Bougainville Transitional Government will be committed to this task. The leaders also committed themselves to "a new spirit" and to "a new deal for a new Bougainville". The Bougainville Transitional Government and the National Government will be committed to working out a new deal for Bougainville which, the leaders of both governments agree, must address the basic grievances of the people and of the province, politically, socially and economically."

2.6 In addition to the specific aims of BTG as are provided under these instruments BTG has an obligation, as a government, to respect, if not follow, the policies of the National Government, both past and present, in so far as those policies relate to its efforts for peace on Bougainville. In this regard all past agreements or understandings between the National Government and Bougainville leaders are binding on BTG, to the extent they are relevant. These agreements have provided the context from which a number of fundamental policies have emerged, and from which various stands (not always similar) have been taken by leaders of Bougainville and leaders at the national level as to what the national policy was, or ought to have been, in relation to Bougainville.

2.7 These agreements include -

(a) the Endeavor Accord;

(b) the Kavieng (Malangan) Agreement;

(c) the Honiara Declaration of 1991;

(d) the South Bougainville Agreement;

(e) the Tambea Accord;

(f) the Honiara Commitment to Peace on Bougainville;

(g) the Cease-fire Agreement of 1994;

(h) the Bougainville Peace Conference resolutions;

(i) the North Nasioi Agreement;

(j) the Charter of Mirigini for a New Bougainville;

(k) the Waigani Communique;

(l) Summary Record of Mirigini Discussions on (the) Implementation of the Waigani Communique;

(m) Areas of Common Understanding reached by the Prime Minister, Sir Julius Chan, and BTG Premier Mr Theodore Miriung on the Occasion of their Fourth Negotiating Session at the Mirigini State House on Thursday 3rd August 1995.

2.8 In pursuing its main objective BTG has found it necessary to spell out its ideas in a Peace Plan for a number of good reasons. First, it has been felt that National Government policy on Bougainville over the past seven years - outside of the specific accords with Bougainville leaders - have, more often than not, excluded the views of Bougainville leaders. This has created problems in the past, in so far as leaving people to believe they cannot be made part of the solution. This may have been unintended on the part of past governments, but that has been the fact. On the contrary it may have been quite necessary on the part of past governments to have excluded Bougainville leaders in the way it did, given the part that some of these leaders have been perceived by the National Government to have played in the conflict. The exclusion of Bougainville leaders in the peace process was exacerbated by the suspension of the North Solomons Provincial Government, among other reasons. It is the common consensus among the population that a durable settlement can only be achieved through the active participation of all Bougainville leaders and their people.

2.9 Secondly, BTG believes that its role in the process towards a political settlement must in the beginning focus on building bridges of confidence and trust between and among all players and factions in the conflict. Only from these foundations can there be real prospects for a settlement. This has been the approach of BTG since its establishment in April 1995.

2.10 Thirdly, and this is related to the second, it was clearly spelled out in the Mirigini Charter that negotiations and dialogue are the central means by which BTG's will have to achieve its objectives. For this reason BTG believes that it ought to be seen as a peace-maker and a peace-builder, working primarily in the management of the conflict through peace-building efforts and confidence-building foundations. It ought not to be seen, strictly speaking, as an enforcer of the law. This is not to say that it cannot assert its authority as the civilian legal authority on the ground. On the contrary it is bound to do so. It will continue to condemn violence and killings in any form and do everything within its power and influence to prevent these. But it believes that its success as a transitional arrangement or as a vehicle for bringing the people to a political settlement requires that it be firm but fair.

2.11 Fourthly, BTG believes that it must look beyond July 1997 when a new government will govern the country after the national elections. BTG believes that a negotiated political settlement is possible before 1997. If none were possible by that time, BTG believes it has an obligation to the people under the Mirigini Charter to prepare the foundations for a political settlement with the incoming government, even if it were itself to be abolished in 1997 under the terms imposed by the Organic Law on Provincial Governments and Local Level Governments

PART III - FOUNDATIONS OF BTG'S STRATEGY

3 FOUNDATIONS OF BTG'S STRATEGY

3.1 BTG's peace strategy is based, though not entirely, on three main foundations, two of which were laid by and through the policies of Sir Julius Chan and his Government upon its assumption of power in August of 1994. The first foundation is derived from which the Prime Minister and Bougainville leaders have collectively termed under the Mirigini Charter as the "new spirit for a new deal for a new Bougainville". The "new spirit" according to the speeches of the Prime Minister - to which BTG fully concurs - contains three main themes - namely -

(i) throwing away the suspicion which had contained to undermine or prevent a full understanding between Bougainville leaders and national leaders;

(ii) not making the same mistakes of the past in relation to Bougainville;

(iii) knocking down legal and constitutional "brick walls" if they stand in the way of a settlement.

3.2 BTG observes that these principles have been quite successful in moving the National Government to establishing dialogue with the BRA, initially, through Sam Kauona in Honiara in 1994 and subsequently to re-establishing the civil authority of the province through the formation of BTG. Since BTG's establishment this same spirit has allowed BTG the liberty to initiate talks with BIG and BRA outside PNG - a policy for which the National Government should be given all due credit, as it is one not normally tried in other countries by governments in resolving internal disputes.

3.3 The second foundation is the recognition of the value of peace talks, and the need for proactive talking. It is a policy that was not deliberately encouraged by past governments - except for those occasions which had resulted in signed agreements and memoranda of understanding between Bougainville leaders and the National Government and national leaders. This recognition has, however, been the centrepiece of Sir Julius Chan's policy; where all peace efforts must revolve around peace talks and on-going dialogue.

3.4 BTG observes that though a lot of positive things have been achieved through talking, National Government action has been somewhat limited or had not gone all the way, or far enough.

3.5 The third foundation upon which BTG has placed its efforts is the need to involve all factions in the search for a solution. BTG believes that a successful political settlement will hinge upon one main factor, namely, the involvement of all factions in the working out of a political settlement. BTG believes that factions should not be deliberately left out of the process.

PART III (sic.) - BTG's PEACE STRATEGY

4. GUIDING PRINCIPLES

4.1 BTG believes that the foundation for a solution depends on a number of fundamental principles -

(i) an acceptance of the fact that there cannot be a pure military solution to the conflict;

(ii) an acceptance of the fact that peace cannot be forced upon a group who wants to go on fighting;

(iii) an acceptance of the fact that only through peace talks there can be understanding - which can lead to success in negotiations and a political settlement.

4.2 These principles, however, need qualifying. BTG believes that -

(i) military presence had been necessary to protect lives and property, and this may continue to be so as long as there is a threat posed to the lives of the people;

(ii) though peace talks are indispensable to the peace process, there is always a possibility that they can protract, without anything being achieved. Pressure must, therefore, be exerted on all parties to make them come to the negotiating table.

4.3 BTG believes that the foundations for a political settlement have been laid as a result of negotiations between BTG and the National Government, and of the peace talks held between BTG and leaders of BIG and BRA.

4.4 BTG believes that the possibility for a settlement will now depend on the willingness of the National Government to concede greater autonomy to Bougainville, on the one hand, and the willingness of the BIG and BRA leadership to accept a "compromise" on the other.

4.5 BTG believes that the acceptance by the rebel leadership of such a "compromise" depends on the "idea of an autonomous Bougainville" being negotiated between the BTG and the National Government.

4.6 BTG believes that the stage can be set for a "compromise" if negotiations between the National Government and the Bougainville leadership can conclude on the "future political status of Bougainville".

4.7 As a "compromise" inevitably takes time, the process can be accelerated, even only slowly, upon the content of the "New Deal for a New Bougainville" being agreed to, in principle, by BTG and the National Government and that this has been acceptable to the people of Bougainville.

5. CONCEPT OF PEACE STRATEGY

5.1 BTG's concept involves doing the following -

(i) to keep the negotiations with the National Government active and progressive while also ensuring that peace talks and the on-going dialogue with leaders of BIG and BRA continue; and that the 'doors" are open and remain so; and

(ii) to allow negotiations with the National Government to come to a decision on the future political status of Bougainville or on the level of autonomy to be granted to Bougainville, taking as its starting point - as agreed under Clause 8 the Mirigini Charter - the level of autonomy envisaged by the Bougainville Agreement of 1976; or, - as had been resolved by the Transitional Assembly on the 28th of July 1995 - "the highest possible level of autonomy", and

(iii) to allow one or two more meetings of Bougainville leaders on Bougainville in March or April as agreed to under the Cairns II Joint Communique; and

(iv) depending on the outcome of those meetings - to complete negotiations on all issues, including the issue of the future political status of Bougainville, and to agree to a political settlement with the National Government by June or September 1996.

5.2 While the process of negotiations and dialogue with both the BIG/BRA leaders and with the National Government is underway - i.e. before June 1996 - BTG will attempt to institute peace-building measures in order to lay the foundations for a negotiated settlement. These measures should thereby also lay the foundations for the institutionalisation of peace in the province after a settlement. These measures include -

(i) the re-structuring of local level government in the province using powers conferred by the Organic Law on Provincial Government; and

(ii) the establishment of a process for dealing with arms which would involve local level government structures and with clan chiefs and leaders or more particularly the re-consolidation of traditional spheres of control and influence - a process which will begin with arms control and end with total disarmament; and

(iii) subject to the approval of the National Government, the creation of a peace-keeping unit comprising, in the main, local youth; and

(iv) the laying down of clear policies for social and economic development and their initial implementation through the restoration programme.

5.3 BTG will aim at consolidating common positions on issues for negotiations with the National Government at the planned Bougainville leaders talks on Bougainville in April or March 1996.

5.4 After the planned Bougainville leaders on Bougainville, BTG will resume negotiations with the National Government on all issues outstanding. In the event that the talks on Bougainville cannot be held, BTG then will need to re-assess the situation before resuming negotiations with the National Government.

PART V - PRIORITIES IN THE PEACE PROCESS AND THE RESTORATION PROGRAMME

6. BTG'S PRIORITIES IN THE PEACE PROCESS.

6.1 BTG's priorities in the peace process are -

(i) to maintain constant dialogue with all Bougainville leaders and especially leaders of BIG and BRA; and

(ii) to reach an understanding with leaders of BIG and BRA on the future political status of Bougainville; and

(iii) to encourage leaders of BIG and BRA to come to the negotiation table; and

(iv) on failing (iii), to complete negotiations with the National Government on all issues; and

(v) to agree to a political settlement.

6.2 In pursuing those priorities BTG is mindful of the fact that agreeing to a political settlement may not necessarily mean the cessation of all hostilities. However, BTG believes that a political settlement which is acceptable to the people would, in time, receive endorsement from hard-liners.

7. PRIORITIES IN THE RESTORATION PROGRAMME.

BTG's priorities in the Restoration programme are -

(i) health;

(ii) education;

(iii) social order;

(iv) infrastructure;

(v) economic services; and

(vi) administration.

These priorities must be reflected in the policies set by BTG.

Appendix 6

MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING

THE PRIME MINISTER AND THE LEADER OF THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT DELEGATION, THE RT. HON SIR JULIUS CHAN GCMG, KBE, MP AND THE PREMIER AND LEADER OF THE BOUGAINVILLE TRANSITIONAL GOVERNMENT DELEGATION, MR THEODORE MIRIUNG HAVING MET AT THE MIRIGINI HOUSE, PORT MORESBY ON THE FOURTH (4TH) JUNE, 1996 AND:

  • IN FURTHER PURSUIT OF THE MIRIGINI CHARTER AND ITS IMPLEMENTATION AS DETERMINED IN THE WAIGANI COMMUNIQUE WHICH THEY SIGNED ON 18 MAY 1995,
  • DETERMINED TO MAINTAIN THE PROCESS OF PEACE, RECONCILIATION AND RECONSTRUCTION ON BOUGAINVILLE, INCLUDING THE IMPETUS CREATED TO DATE,
  • HAVING HELD EXTENSIVE DISCUSSIONS,
  • REACHED THE FOLLOWING UNDERSTANDING:

1. TRANSITIONAL ARRANGEMENTS FOR BTG

IT WAS REQUESTED BY PREMIER THEODORE MIRIUNG THAT THE CURRENT TERM OF THE BOUGAINVILLE TRANSITIONAL GOVERNMENT BY EXTENDED BEYOND THE 1997 NATIONAL ELECTIONS.

THE PRIME MINISTER APPRECIATES THE SPECIFIC COMMITMENTS RELATING TO BOUGAINVILLE AND COMMITS THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT TO DO ITS BEST ENDEAVOUR TO PASS AMENDMENTS TO THE ORGANIC LAW ON PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENTS AND LOCAL LEVEL GOVERNMENTS TO EFFECT THE ABOVE.

IT WAS FURTHER AGREED THAT THE PROCESS BY INITIATED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE AND CONCLUDED BY THE SIXTEENTH 16TH DAY OF JUNE, 1996. THE OFFICIALS OF THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT AND THE BTG HAVE BEEN MANDATED T IMMEDIATELY WORK ON THE DETAILS.

2. AUTONOMY

WHILST ACKNOWLEDGING THE COMPLEXITIES OF ANY DISCUSSION ON THE GRANTING OF SOME DEGREE OF AUTONOMY FOR BOUGAINVILLE BOTH PARTIES AGREED TO DELIBERATE FURTHER ON THE LEVEL AND SCOPE OF AUTONOMY FOR BOUGAINVILLE. THE DETAILS ARE TO BE WORKED OUT BY OFFICIALS FROM BOTH SIDES LATER ON.

3. LOCAL LEVEL GOVERNMENT

BOTH PARTIES AGREED THAT A SYSTEM OF LOCAL LEVEL GOVERNMENT BE ESTABLISHED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE TO FACILITATE THE PROCESS OF NORMALISATION ON BOUGAINVILLE.

4. FUNDING

WHILST ACKNOWLEDGING PAST DIFFICULTIES ON DRAWING DOWN FUNDS ALLOCATED FOR BOUGAINVILLE AND THE BTG, BOTH PARTIES AGREED TO WORK WITHIN THE CURRENT ARRANGEMENT TO FACILITATE A PROMPT RELEASE OF FUNDS EARMARKED FOR BOUGAINVILLE.

SIGNED AT MIRIGINI STATE HOUSE ON THE FOURTH DAY OF JUNE, 1996

JULIUS CHAN
PRIME MINISTER

WITNESSED BY:
W NOEL LEVI
SECRETARY

THEODORE MIRIUNG
PREMIER

WITNESSED BY
JAMES TOGEL
MEMBER, BTG

 
 

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