6 Jun 2008

Bougainville women call for regional awareness of developing tensions

3:17 pm on 6 June 2008

A women's leader from the autonomous Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville is calling on Pacific Island nations to be mindful of the tensions developing over a controversial deal made by the Joseph Kabui led Government.

This comes after civil society, chiefs and business people challenged a deal granting a Canadian company control over the Bogenvil Resource Development Corporation, which, they say, is selling out the province's vast mineral assets.

Women's groups had called a forum yesterday to discuss the issue, but were blocked by police who have demanded they apply for a permit for such an event.

A meeting is now to be held next Thursday.

Helen Hakena, who heads the Leitana Nehan Women's Agency, says regional leaders need to be aware women fear that civil tension could return.

"Because we are close to the people, we are close to the children, when we feel the feeling of insecurity it should be taken as an early warning sign that things are going to happen. And I am calling on the Governments in the region to closely watch what is happening there and to influence our Government, our President, [to] consult the people more, particularly the women."