MAC: Mines and Communities

Panguna wants peace

Published by MAC on 2003-06-17

Panguna wants peace

The people of Panguna area in Central Bougainville [site of the abandoned Bougainville copper mine] would like to see the peace process fully achieved so that basic services could flow into all areas not receiving services now.

That is the sentiment of Mekamui Defence Forces ACompany spokesman Boniface Arunara. He said the current peace process was so fragile that everyone, including all those that took part in the war, have to work together to look after it.

Otherwise we will be back in the jungles again fighting which many of our people do not want to see,Mr Arunara said.

Many women and children experienced some of the worst times of their lives and now is the time to help them get basic services.

He said the Ioro 1 area which starts from Morgan Junction near Arawa down to Java River near Panguna has been one of the worst hit by the crisis as no services went that way for almost 10 years.

Mr Arunara said after more than 10 years, basic services such as schools and aid posts were opening up and what was now needed were supplies for these schools and aid posts.

People are now opening up their minds and the reconciliation process is taking place among factions of the Mekamui Defence Force and factions of the resistance forces, he said.

People in the area are also starting small agricultural projects such as butterfly farming, cocoa plantations and vanilla farming among others but their main problem will be looking for a market to sell their produces.

He said families have now resorted to alluvial gold mining as a means of earning an income and small businesses were booming in the area.

Mr Arunara said law and order problems were being experienced in areas where services were fully restored such as Buka town as people were living in peace in areas regarded as no go zone.

He said the people in Ioro 1 have become so peaceful they would not harm anyone unnecessarily.

He said since the peace process was established, there have been no serious arguments between factions of the MDF, such as between the ACompany and the MDF as both factions have been talking about peace and carrying out awareness programs promoting the peace process.

We would also like to see our leaders promoting the peace process and not promoting their egos during this time when the peace process is so fragile,Mr Arunara said.

We would like them to unite and lead us to where we want to go, full autonomy and the eventual independent Bougainville.

He said if there was no solidarity among the leaders of Bougainville, they (the leaders) will do things that would bring Bougainville back to what it experienced over the last 10 years.

On weapons containment, Mr Arunara said in the Ioro 1 area there are many good signs ahead as one of the major strongholds of the Mekamui Defence Force, Kokore is preparing for a weapons disposal program which would take place anytime soon.

The Peace Monitoring Group was for the first time invited to Mungtaka which is the border of the no go zoneand Java but we would like to see them leave the island,he said.

This is because if they keep staying here, we (Bougainvilleans) will not be able to manage our own affairs.

We have to prove our leadership that is home-grown.

There have been good progress made in containing weapons at the Panguna area.

In the first containment, seven weapons were contained at two separate locations and the second was held recently where five weapons were contained, one of which one was a high-powered gun.

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