4 Jul 2006

PNG minister denies involvement in alleged assassination plot

6:42 am on 4 July 2006

Papua New Guinea's Mining Minister Sam Akoitai has rejected accusations he was involved in an alleged plot to assassinate Bougainville President Joseph Kabui.

Mr Akoitai has denied involvement, demanded proof he was involved from Kabui's autonomous government and is considering suing.

The alleged plot surfaced after tensions rose over a recent deal between the the cash-strapped Autonomous Bougainville Government and a Canadian company , Invincible Resources, to receive more than six and a half million US dollars in return for a future share of mining returns.

The resumption of mining is a sensitive issue on Bougainville.

Landowner anger over the giant Australian-run Panguna gold and copper mine sparked a secessionist conflict through the 1990s in which up to 20,000 people died.

Mr Kabui said last week a plan to assassinate him was to have been carried out during mid-June celebrations to mark the first anniversary of his government on the island.