26 Jul 2005

Bougainville's president seeks to secure rebel territory after secessionist's death

3:28 pm on 26 July 2005

The Bougainville autonomous government in Papua New Guinea is seeking to secure the territory controlled by the late rebel leader Francis Ona.

The province has been in official mourning since Mr Ona, believed to be in his 50s, died on Sunday afternoon.

The Bougainville president, Joseph Kabui, says the issue of what to do about Mr Ona's so-called 'No-Go Zone' is now top of the political agenda.

Mr Kabui says the issue is up for discussion and negotiation, along with other topics to do with reconciliation.

"We're going to push for those issues to move on, so that we don't leave anything that people with their own motives, whatever they may be, could capitalise, to bring or cause instability in Bougainville. We want to make sure Bougainville must be united, must come under one political umbrella, through negotiations, as soon as possible."

Joseph Kabui says Mr Ona deserves recognition for the prominent role he played initiating the political moves that culminated in autonomous government.