‘Panguna talks only on Bougainville’

National, Normal

The National, Wednesday, June 8th 2011

AUTONOMOUS Region of Bougainville President John Momis says his government will support any talks on the Panguna copper mine but all meetings must be held in Bougainville.
Momis said this in response to a statement by Philip Miriori, who had claimed to be speaking for a “Mekamui Tribal Government” and who invited the ABG and other stakeholders to meet in Cairns, Australia, to discuss unresolved issues about the Panguna Copper Mine.
Momis said he would be happy to discuss any issues about Panguna that Miriori would like to raise but it was not appropriate for the meetings to be held in Cairns.
“Panguna is in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. If we need meetings of stakeholders, they must be in Bougainville where all the major Bougainvillean stakeholders can have access,” Momis said.
“There is no need for a meeting in Cairns. The ABG will not attend any meeting in Cairns.
“I advise other stakeholders to refuse to attend such a meeting.
“It is important for the ABG to work with all parts of the communities living in the areas of the Panguna mine leases.
“Miriori might be a spokesman for part of the Mekamui groups but there are other Mekamui groups.
“There are other parts of the community that do not support the Me’ekamui leadership.
“The key thing is ensure that all voices are heard so that consensus is achieved.
“Since 2009, the ABG has been consulting the communities in the six main lease areas associated with the Panguna mine about how they wish to be organised to be represented in the proposed process to review the Bougainville Copper Agreement.
“As a result of a long series of public and well attended consultative meetings with the communities, the ABG is helping the communities establish landowner associations to represent the communities.
“That process continues, slowly and carefully,” Momis said.