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Pacific News Minute: Repercussions of Conflicts in Bougainville and the Solomon Islands

Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

  Two Pacific Island conflicts echoed in the news this week.  On Bougainville, an angry President John Momis says that Papua New Guinea violated the peace agreement that ended the war on that island in 2001 by failing to make guaranteed payments.  Next door in the Solomon Islands, the government kicked off a program to rehabilitate fighters from its civil war.  More from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

After the commodities crash sharply reduced revenue, the government in Papua New Guinea instituted deep budget cuts earlier this year. Several provinces complained; none more than Bougainville which remains restive nearly fifteen years after peace was agreed.  President Momis says Papua New Guinea is 33-million dollars behind.  When Prime Minister Peter O'Neill replied that Bougainville receives more than any other province, President Momis declared that he was quite wrong.  "This is the kind of treatment that want to dish out to Bougainville," he told Radio New Zealand International, "the people will not accept this."

Under the peace agreement, Bougainville will hold a plebiscite on independence within five years.

The war in the neighboring Solomon Islands ended with the Townsville accords in 2000.  Fighters from the Malaitian Eagle Force and the Isatabu Freedom Movement surrendered their weapons and accepted repatriation to their home villages in return for amnesty.  They were also promised a rehabilitation fund, 15 years down the road.  This week the government in Honiara sent an initial payment of 375-thousand dollars to the Post Conflict Rehabilitation and Restoration Association.  Also this month, 70 graduates of the Solomon Islands police academy joined a force rebuilt after the war with help of police officers from around the Pacific.  The last 17 members of a peace keeping mission once thousands strong are scheduled to withdraw in about 18 months.

Over 36 years with National Public Radio, Neal Conan worked as a correspondent based in New York, Washington, and London; covered wars in the Middle East and Northern Ireland; Olympic Games in Lake Placid and Sarajevo; and a presidential impeachment. He served, at various times, as editor, producer, and executive producer of All Things Considered and may be best known as the long-time host of Talk of the Nation. Now a macadamia nut farmer on Hawaiʻi Island, his "Pacific News Minute" can be heard on HPR Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
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