11 Jul 2005

Bougainville's president calls on rebel leader to compensate islanders

2:17 pm on 11 July 2005

The President of the Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville says secessionist leader Francis Ona should use the gold wealth he claims to have, to compensate Bougainvilleans for years of suffering during the island's conflict.

The National newspaper reports Mr Ona recently said gold panned by villagers had funded his secessionist Meekamui Movement.

Mr Ona refuses to recognise the island's newly-elected autonomous government.

He recently said he would support the president, Joseph Kabui and his autonomous government, if they recognise Bougainville as a sovereign nation already independent from PNG.

Mr Ona also said if the autonomous government did not have the finances to run the island, it should step down.

However Mr Kabui has urged Mr Ona to join other Bougainvilleans in developing a free democratic society that does not require the barrel of a gun or fear to rule.

Mr Kabui says finding funds to develop Bougainville is a major priority.

The president says it would be appropriate for Mr Ona to consider using his vast wealth to

compensate the people for the years of suffering they have endured in his name.