29 Dec 2008

New Bougainvillean leader represents a generational shift - academic

4:23 pm on 29 December 2008

An Australian academic who has been closely involved with Bougainville for many years, says the election of James Tanis as President of the autonomous Papua New Guinea province represents a generational shift.

Mr Tanis beat 13 other contenders to take the position made vacant by the death of Joseph Kabui last June.

Dr Ted Wolfers of the University of Wollongong says Mr Tanis will bring continuity since he was closely involved in the peace process and should have a good understanding of what the arrangements are.

But he also says he expects a generational shift and a different focus on many issues, including more caution over plans to re-start mining in the province.

"He would also, coming from where he does, down in the southwest, be very conscious of the need for reconciliation island wide, of trying to bring down the barriers that still exist between different communities. I think he would be very conscious of really getting on with weapons disposal as part of that process, and I think, given his recent experience in the commercial sector he might be expected to take quite a close interest in finding economic opportunities for younger Bougainvilleans."