PNG Bougainville Minister says reconciliations vital

4:09 pm on 5 July 2019

Papua New Guinea's newly appointed Minister of Bougainville Affairs says two reconciliations being prepared are vital for the country's future.

Sir Puka Temu

Sir Puka Temu Photo: AFP

This comes ahead of Bougainville's referendum on independence scheduled for October.

Sir Puka Temu said a national reconciliation and another involving former combatants were postponed last month because of the PNG government's change of leadership.

He said this will include commitments to the disposal of weapons.

Sir Puka said there are now teams on the ground preparing for the events at a date that is yet to be announced.

He said he embraces the reconciliations because of their importance to Melanesian culture and also the commitment that the final outcome will be jointly negotiated.

"So as part of that is to guarantee the security of the process and also reconcile and rebuild the relationship amongst all of us - our soldiers on this side and ex-combatants on the other side because that will then remove this cloud of suspicion."

Sir Puka said when he met with members of the separatist Me'ekamui group on Bougainville two weeks ago he was comforted at the support they expressed for the referendum process.

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