By Meleasie Goviro – EMTV News, Port Moresby
A faction of elders that claim to be the legitimate Tuguba clan leaders of Hela Province, are calling on the government and LNG Developers to redo the entire clan vetting process.
They say the current issues between landowners, the government and developer could have been avoided and millions of kina saved had the government not cut corners in the first place.
Addressing the media today they made it very clear, that they were more concerned with proper representation of the Tuguba land custodians.
They believe that once that is in order, everything else will fall in place, including the restoration of peace and order among landowners, developers and the government.
They say the landowner issues faced today were directly related to a confusion over land custody and runs deeper than many understand, going back generations to a common ancestor: Hela, whose children founded the four main clans of Hela Province.
They claim the people now benefitting from the LNG project, descended from generations of extended families that were allowed to settle on the land because of intermarriages with the women of their clan. They blame them for the recent civil unrest in Hela , saying they themselves were not involved.
The original clan, as they claim to be, refused to participate in the Umbrella Benefit Sharing Agreement in Kokopo. They believed strongly than as they do now, that the agreement was “unceremonial” and asked more of their cultural birth-right than they were willing to give away.
The faction has now proposed that the clan vetting processes should be completely redone to recognise only the four main clans.
They have also requested that the government allow for and recognise an ancient ceremonial ritual of blessing to allow the LNG project to continue on their land.
They say until these requests are met, they will not lose sleep over the benefits that they have been denied.