9 Jun 2008

Tributes after the death of Bougainville President, Joseph Kabui

5:35 am on 9 June 2008

The president of the autonomous Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville, Joseph Kabui, who died at the weekend, has been praised by the Australian government as a man who pursued "peace by peaceful means".

Mr Kabui, the first president of an autonomous Bougainville, died in hospital in Buka of a suspected heart attack.

Australia's Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith, said Mr Kabui, who was 54, played a key role in restoring Bougainville to peace following bitter conflict on the island from 1989 to 1997.

Mr Smith said Mr Kabui had suffered ill health for some years but demonstrated his commitment and determination by continuing to serve as a community and political leader.

Recently, his administration had been facing mounting unrest over its decision to grant Invincible Resources, a Canadian company , 70 per cent access rights to the island province's vast mineral resources.

The deal sparked widespread concern among Bougainville landowners, politicians and citizens.