29 Mar 2005

Bougainville rebel leader reiterates independence call to 200 at Buka rally

4:48 pm on 29 March 2005

A political rally has been held today by the Bougainville rebel leader, Francis Ona, in the town of Buka in the Papua New Guinea province.

It's the second time in a week that Mr Ona has appeared in public and left the No Go Zone on Bougainville, where he has stayed for sixteen years, always refusing to take part in the peace process.

The Bougainville administrator, Peter Tsiamalili, says around 200 people were involved in the rally, which appeared to have been organised by Buka locals.

He says Mr Ona repeated calls he made last week in Arawa, questioning the upcoming elections, saying Bougainville is already an independent nation...

"... [that] the UN should give recognition to the Republic of Mekamui, and also demand that the AAP (the Australian Assistance Police) move immediately out of Bougainville, and telling people that autonomy is not supported, and they should not go for the autonomous election, because they've already declared independence some times back."