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Bougainville Revolutionary Army heals 20 year rift

A 20 year rift in the Bougainville Revolution Army has been healed, with the expected referendum the draw card.

In 1997 the leaders of the BRA, which had been conducting a separatist war against the Papua New Guinea Defence Force, met to consider the prospect of peace talks sponsored by New Zealand.

RNZI reports some backed the talks, which led to the Peace Agreement, and others, under Francis Ona, chose to return to the bush but promised not interfere in the peace process.

The leader of the Bougainville Department of Peace Agreement Implementation, James Tanis, said it had largely stayed that way, but the lure of a vote on possible independence in 2019 had now brought both groups together.

"Because one thing that binds all Bougainvilleans together is that there should be a referendum to ultimately decide on the future political status of Bougainville," he said.

"So in fact it is the coming referendum. Parties are now realise that the only way for Bougainville to resolve the question of final political status for Bougainville is to go through this referendum."

"A reconciliation was signed in Arawa by all the leaders of the BRA earlier this month," Mr Tanis said.
Source:  Radio New Zealand
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