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Rescission of the call out order for Bougainville

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FA111 _ 20 August, 1998


I warmly welcome the Papua New Guinea Government’s decision to rescind the call out order that underpinned PNGDF operations on Bougainville.

The decision, announced today, not only formally ended the PNGDF’s operations in support o f the civil power on the island but will also clear the way for an important leaders’ meeting involving all the parties. It is a further signal of just how far the parties have come down the path of peace in a little over twelve months.

I would like to congratulate the Papua New Guinea Government for this important decision. It is another sign o f the flexible and constructive approach of the Prime Minister, M r Bill Skate, to the Bougainville problem and of his personal commitment to a peaceful and negotiated solution. I also commend Bougainvillean leaders for the strong commitment they have shown to ending this terrible conflict.

I urge all the parties to continue to demonstrate the goodwill that has made the peace process so successful. The people of Bougainville have shown that they desperately want peace and it is up to all the parties to deliver this for them.

Although the rescission of the call out order is yet another milestone along the road towards lasting peace, it does not mean that the security situation on Bougainville has returned completely to normal. Under the Lincoln Agreement the parties agreed to the restoration of civil authority on the island. It will be important for an effective police presence to be

deployed to the province. The parties are discussing ways to handle the continuing law and i. r problems that are hampering the ceasefire and reconstruction process.

Australia has already supported the peace process in a number of important ways, including hrough its substantial contribution to the Peace Monitoring Group which has been deployed on the island since 1 May, support for peace talks and the aid program. Australia has committed $136 million to reconstruction and rehabilitation activity on Bougainville and

provided assistance for the training of auxiliary constables on Bougainville. It is vital that ordinary Bougainvilleans receive a return - through reconstruction and rehabilitation - from the peace process.

Media contact: Innes Willox 0419 206 890

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