12 Jul 2003

Bougainville rebel leader criticises autonomy deal

8:05 am on 12 July 2003

A reclusive rebel leader who sparked a decade-long civil war on Papua New Guinea's Bougainville Island says he is determined to remain in the mountains with his rebel force and wait for independence.

In his first interview in nearly seven years, Francis Ona has told AFP that autonomy is not the answer for Bougainville.

He says the autonomy is being imposed by outsiders and the autonomous government won't answer the cries of the people.

Mr Ona says it only brings Bougainville back to PNG under the constitution of PNG, but he says PNG lost that authority in 1990 when they withdrew from Bougainville.