The National – Tuesday, February 8, 2011
LANDOWNER leaders in Panguna have slammed requests by the Autonomous Bougainville Government for the PNG shareholding interest in Bougainville Copper Ltd to be transferred to ABG.
Chairpersons of six Panguna mine lease associations said in a joint statement yesterday that they were lost for words over ABG President John Momis’ direct approach to Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare without consulting them.
The six mine lease associations were set up by the ABG.
Chairpersons Chris Damana, Michael Pariu, Bernadine Kiraa, Therese Jaintong, Tarcisius Karuai and Jude Sirinai said in a first-ever gathering in Buka in late November last year, it was agreed that as a major partner in the BCA review process, Panguna landowners would have a stake in the national government’s 19.06% shareholding in BCL.
“As part of our consultations on the benefits sharing arrangement (BSA) with other BCA review stakeholders, the issue of shareholding in BCL is crucial to people in the six mine lease areas.
“We have planned for each of the six leases to have a proportionate shareholding in BCL, with ABG taking up a majority of the shares on behalf of the people of Bougainville including ex-combatants.”
The leaders advised the president to consult Panguna landowners before approaching the prime minister.
“He must be careful with his direct approach as some of us still remember his pre-crisis (1987) Bougainville initiative and the number of demonstrations that he organised where our ignorant mothers, sisters and aunties were used to demonstrate in front of BCL’s pink palace.
“We also believe that he played a part in the Bougainville crisis and, to date, he has not come out publicly to explain the part he played just before the crisis with the launching of his Bougainville initiative.”
The landowners said since taking office in June last year, Momis had not met with them or with the interim executives of Panguna Landowners Association.
“We just want to be consulted in everything to do with our mine lease areas. This is our plea to our leaders,” the statement read in part.