The National, Tuesday, April 26, 2011
By JEFFREY ELAPA
THERE will be no hope of holding a referendum in Bougainville if violence continues in the region, Autonomous Bougainville Government President John Momis said.
He said this after learning of the shooting deaths of two more people, taking the death toll to more than 50 people since 2006 killed in Konnou in South Bougainville.
Momis described the shootings as “terrible news”, adding that the people of South Bougainville had seen too much death and injuries and demanded the removal of weapons and a return to peace and normalcy.
“I call on the leaders of the armed group to work with me and other leaders to end violence for good.”
He said the Bougainville crisis ended 14 years ago and there was no place for weapons and violence now.
He said the deaths in armed conflict since 2006 “have nothing to do with the grievances that caused the Bougainville crisis”.
“Instead, they are the result of personal differences, lawlessness and criminal activity.
“Innocent people are being killed and injured and displaced from their homes, economic development is impossible in large areas and insecurity and crime are becoming a part of everyday life.
“This must stop.
“If violence continues, there is no hope of holding a referendum that the international community will judge as free and fair,” Momis said.
He said there would be no chance of mining to provide economic development, and the revenue needed for autonomy and referendum, adding that if nothing changed, “we will only attract dishonest foreigners that will try to exploit our resources.”
He said he would call a summit of leaders from South Bougainville and a consensus must be reached on how to get rid of the weapons.
Leaders of the armed groups must be involved in preparing for the summit.
Momis said the Bougainville administration would plan the summit for South Bougainville leaders to be held as soon as possible.
He will also discuss with the national government and regional embassies for possible arrangements for a small regional force to provide local security in South Bougainville for the weapons disposal process and find funding for training of members of armed groups if an agreement was not reached.