Bougainville's Me'ekamui dismisses share spat

1:54 pm on 26 August 2016

The leader of Bougainville's Me-ekamui rebel group, Chris Uma, says the spat over shares in Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL) is of no consequence.

Bougainville's Panguna Copper mine

Bougainville's Panguna Copper mine Photo: Supplied

A war of words erupted between the governments of Papua New Guinea and Bougainville after multi national miner, Rio Tinto, gave its shares in BCL to them.

PNG later gave its shares to Panguna landowners, a move that infuriated Bougainville President John Momis, who said the shares should all go to his Autonomous Government(ABG).

But the special envoy for Mr Uma, John Jaintong, said it is irrelevant because in Me'ekamui's view there is no BCL.

"Because in 1989, when the mine was closed, Bougainville Copper walked away, got paid off, [and] large compensation for loss of business and loss of property, and to Me'ekamui, the mine has ceased to exist since 1989 and the land now returned to the people."

Mr Uma's special envoy, John Jaintong, said before there can be talk of any mining in Bougainville there has to be a ceremony of reconciliation to acknowledge the 20,000 who died in the civil war.

"That is the only thing that is holding them back. They want to see that that's done quickly and amicably." he said.

"Now, give you how they want it played out. They want it hosted by Chris Uma and the Prime Minister on behalf of the paramount chiefs of Bougainville, who own the land, and the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea. But not by ABG."

Mr Jaintong said the ABG and President John Momis would be welcome as observers.

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