13th June 2007
As citizens of Bougainville commemorate the second anniversary of the island's autonomous government, the president doesn't appear too impressed by recent declarations, either from Rio Tinto or the self-styled European Shareholders group, implying they have the right to return to the Panguna minesite. [see: http://www.minesandcommunities.org/Action/press1521.htm]
President Kabui also recently met with lawyers acting on behalf of Panguna landowners in the long-delayed hearing of the US filed case against Rio Tinto, accusing it of a range of human rights abuses.
ABG may opt to use own powers
13th June 2007
THE National Government is breaching the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) when it is delaying the transfer of mining powers to the Autonomous Bougainville Government says ABG President Joseph Kabui.
Under Section 7 (a) of the BPA and Section 297 of the Bougainville Constitution and also in Part 14 of the PNG National Constitution it states "that both Governments (PNG and ABG) shall agree on the transfer of whatever powers and functions which the ABG will be ready for -in this case the mining and petroleum powers which the ABG asked to be drawn down".
The ABG advised the PNG Government on the drawdown of these powers in June last year but the PNG Government is yet to respond.
Because of the delay on the PNG Government's part, the ABG will not hesitate to implement its own mining policies and legislations which they already had in place.
Mr Kabui said he had a good discussion with Chief Secretary to Government Isaac Lupari and Mr Lupari assured the ABG that the process of transferring mining, petroleum and gas powers would be addressed immediately. Mr Lupari did not respond to questions sent to him yesterday.
President Kabui said he was confident that the mining powers would be transferred soon. Mr Kabui returned from Australia where he met with lawyers from US based Berman and Hagan, Melbourne based Gordon and Slater and PNG based Narokobi lawyers who are taking part in the class action law suit in the US courts on behalf of the Bougainvilleans.
ABG Mining Minister Mathias Salas and ABG principal legal adviser Kapeatu Puaria accompanied the president to Australia.
The purpose of the trip was for the lawyers to brief Mr Kabui and his delegation on the court case as well as get views on where the ABG stood on the case.
Mr Kabui told the lawyers that he acknowledged what they were doing but the ABG would distance itself from the case as the ABG was not a party to the case.
He said the legal case would be looked at carefully and the Bougainville Executive Council will also be briefed about it then the president can comment on the case. Mr Kabui said the ABG was "still shopping around" for possible mining companies to go into Bougainville and they also wanted a company that would properly address environment issues and tangible benefits to the landowners, the ABG and the people of Bougainville.
He said the ABG would not also go to the Bougainville Copper Agreement review when Bougainville Copper Limited was insisting for the 1967 agreement on the Panguna mine to be reviewed.
He said any review on the Panguna mine would be on a "clean sheet" as the Autonomous Bougainville Government was not a party to that (1967) agreement and if BCL wanted to review the 1967 agreement, the Panguna mine could remain shut for many years. "We want to talk mining with a company that will listen to us and give back to the landowners and the people of Bougainville," he said.