A new era for Bougainville...Published by MAC on 2005-06-16
A new era for Bougainville...
The President of the new autonomous state of Bougainville has promised a plebiscite to enable citizens to decide whether or not to allow the re-opening of the Panguna copper-gold mine. The pollution and appropriation of land caused by this project was at the root of the vast conflict which erupted in 1988, claiming up to 20,000 lives.
Joseph Kabui has also said that his government would consider negotiating with the Rio Tinto subsidiary, BCL, for a transfer of the company's equipment, while supporting small-scale alluvial mining by Bougainvilleans in the concession area.
Meanwhile Francis Ona - the man who led the uprising against Rio Tinto and for an independent Bougainville - remains holed up in his self-declared "kingdom" at Panguna, having refused to join the electoral process, but not specifically interrupting it.