Archive - Friday, May 23, 1997

Wed
31
Dec
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BOUGAINVILLE TRUCE MONITORS DENY REBELS ARE REARMING

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (December 31, 1997 - Radio Australia)--- The multi-nation Truce Monitoring Group on the secessionist Papua New Guinea island of Bougainville says there is no evidence to back allegations that rebels are using the truce to smuggle arms onto the island.

The allegation was made by Papua New Guinea Defense Force commander Brigadier General Leo Nuia, who said weapons were being smuggled into the island's southwest region, near the Solomon Islands.

A spokesman for the New Zealand Defense Force, which heads the Truce Monitoring Group, says the team has not uncovered any evidence of arms smuggling.

The charges also have been denied by Bougainville Revolutionary Army spokesman Moses Havini.

Troops and civilians from Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and Vanuatu are collaborating in monitoring the Fiji truce, which was signed in New Zealand last October.

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Wed
31
Dec
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MARSHALL ISLANDS MAIL TO GET U.S. WINGS?

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (December 28, 1997 - Marshall Islands Journal)--- The U.S. Postal Service said last week that "significant progress has been made towards increasing the mail lift into and out of Majuro."

The announcement was made in reply to a series of questions the Journal asked a U.S. Postal Service official in Honolulu.

At a meeting in Washington, D.C. earlier this month, the Department of Interior indicated that funding for increased "guaranteed mail lift" may be available, said Leo B. Tudela, the senior executive advisor in the USPS's International Business Unit.

Tudela and the USPS Honolulu transportation manager met with officials from the departments of Defense, Interior and State in Washington, D.C. on December 4.

"At that meeting we were pleased to learn that based upon the dollar amount the USPS is projecting for guaranteed mail lift, the Department of Interior indicated funding may be available," Tudela said.

Increased...

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Wed
31
Dec
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SOLOMONS PM ULUFA'ALU REFUTES REPORTED BOUGAINVILLE STATEMENT

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (December 30, 1997 - PACNEWS)---Solomon Islands Prime Minister Bartholomew Ulufa'alu had described as "grossly misleading" media reports quoting him as saying that "he did not favor independence for Bougainville."

He is alleged to have made the comment during last week's visit to Bougainville with Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Bill Skate as part of peace efforts for the embattled PNG island.

"During my entire three-day visit to Bougainville, never did I raise the issue of independence for the island, " Ulufa'alu said in a statement. "Instead, I called for reconciliation between the warring parties to ensure that peace returns to Bougainville."

The Solomons Prime Minister was quoted as saying during a speech in Bougainville that he hoped PNG and his country would one day merge to form one nation, and that unity in the Melanesian region would be more productive than the creation of more small nations.

The Bougainville Freedom...

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Wed
31
Dec
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TIMBER INDUSTRY DAMAGE TO SOLOMONS NATURAL RESOURCES

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (December 30, 1997 - PACNEWS)---An environmental and social impact assessment of the Solomon Islands' Isabel Timber Company (ITC) in Isabel Province has uncovered logging operations that not only are highly damaging to the region's natural resources but also are believed to be illegal.

The assessment was carried out last April by an English company, Forests Monitor, following a request from local landowners.

The report, which just recently was released, says ITC's operations clearly pose a threat to the future of the logging industry and the livelihood of the people of Isabel Province. Forests Monitor says it is hoped the report will lead to a formal investigation into the operations of the company by the new Solomon Islands government of Prime Minister Bartholomew Ulufa'alu.

Forests Monitor also hopes the government will suspend the license of ITC until the company's destructive logging methods are changed and compensation is paid to...

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Wed
31
Dec
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KIRIBATI CONTINUES MILLENNIUM PREPARATIONS

TARAWA, Kiribati (December 31, 1997 - PACNEWS)---Kiribati's Millennium Task Force says Kiribati continues to support the findings of the London-based Royal Greenwich Observatory, which announced earlier this year that Kiribati's Millennium Island, formerly Caroline Island, in the Phoenix Islands Group will be the first to see the dawn of the new millennium.

The Chairman of the Task Force, Karibati Taoaba, says despite new scientific findings published recently in the Geographic Journal, stating that New Zealand's Pitt Island will be the first to see the year 2000, Kiribati is going ahead with major plans to welcome the big day, Radio Kiribati reports.

Taoaba says a special program is in preparation, focusing on cultural performances, sporting events and religious programs.

Millennium activities, she notes, are planned to take place on both Kiribati's Kiritimati and Millennium islands.

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FIJI ARMY PLANNING REDUCTIONS

SUVA, Fiji (December 30, 1997 - PACNEWS)---The Fiji Military Force (FMF) plans to lay off 20 soldiers now based at Labasa.

It is part of proposals made three months ago to reduce the size of the Fiji military and cut spending, the Fiji Times reports.

Senior military sources in Suva say of the 20 Labasa-based soldiers to be laid off, 17 will be drafted into the police force for service at various posts throughout the country.

The FMF's head of administration, Lieutenant Colonel Ulaisai Vatu, would not confirm the specifics of the Labasa report, saying only that the military would soon reduce its size and spending.

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31
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AUSTRALIAN FOREIGN MINISTER DOWNER TO VISIT

BOUGAINVILLE FRIDAY

CANBERRA, Australia (December 31, 1997 - PACNEWS)---Australia's Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, will travel to Bougainville Friday to reinforce the country's commitment to the peace process aimed at ending the nine-year conflict

He says he hopes to meet senior representatives of the Papua New Guinea government, the Bougainville Transitional Government, the Bougainville Interim Government and the Bougainville Revolutionary Army -- all signatories to the so-called Burnham truce agreement.

Downer says Australia stands ready to play a continuing role in facilitating a peaceful solution to the fighting on Bougainville. He says his visit will take place in the lead-up to the next round of peace talks to be held in Christchurch, New Zealand, January 15 - 23.

While on Bougainville, Downer will meet members of the Truce Monitoring Group and inspect Australian aid projects on the island.

Australia has allocated more than $85 million...

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RISK OF LANDSLIDES IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA WHEN RAINS START

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (December 30, 1997 - PACNEWS)---The Director General of Papua New Guinea's National Disaster and Emergency Services (NDES), Colonel Eric Ani, has warned that once the long delayed PNG rainy season starts, the risk of landslides will be extremely high.

He said the biggest threat is in Papua New Guinea's mountainous areas, because the top-soil there now is very loose as a result of the prolonged dry spell caused by the El Niño weather phenomenon.

Colonel Ani warned villagers living on or near the mountains to be aware of the increased possibility of soil erosion and potentially dangerous land slides and mud slides

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31
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SHOWDOWN OVER FIJI TV CANCELLATION OF MILLENNIUM SERIES

SUVA, Fiji (December31, 1997 - PACNEWS)---A war of words has erupted between Fiji's opposition leader, Jai Ram Reddy, and the minister responsible for television, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola.

On Tuesday, Reddy described the government's decision to stop Fiji Television Limited from screening the drama series Millennium as "extremely poor," The Daily Post reports.

He said the decision was reported to be based on a complaint from one person, namely the Minister of Finance, James Ah Koy. But Ratu Inoke said that Reddy did not know what he was talking about, adding that complaints about the television series came from many viewers and not just one person.

The Ministry of Communications ordered Millennium off Fiji TV screens on Christmas Day, saying the weekly program contained unsuitable scenes for general viewing.

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Tue
30
Dec
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ULUFA'ALU'S BOUGAINVILLE REMARKS CALLED "OUTRAGEOUS"

SYDNEY, Australia (December 29, 1997 - Radio Australia)---The Bougainville Freedom Movement in Australia has described as "outrageous" remarks by Solomon Islands Prime Minister Bartholomew Ulufa'alu during his Christmas visit to secessionist Bougainville.

Ulufa'alu said that unity in the Melanesian region would be more productive than the creation of more small states, such as an independent Bougainville.

He accompanied Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Bill Skate to the island as part of efforts to resolve the almost ten-year insurrection on the mineral-rich island.

In Sydney, a spokesman for the Bougainville Freedom Movement, Vikki John, said Ulufa'alu's statement appeared to be a "political stunt to deny the people of Bougainville their rights for self-determination."

Secessionist leaders, including Bougainville Revolutionary Army commander Sam Kauona and Bougainville Interim Government chairman Joseph Kabui, refused to meet the two prime ministers...

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