Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, has warned President of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, Chief John Momis, not to play politics and use the peace process for political gain over the Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) shares.
Momis who is the President of Papua New Guinea’s Autonomous Region of Bougainville was critical of the national government’s decision to transfer 17.3 per cent of BCL shares directly to landowners.
In a statement released from the Office of the Prime Minister, O’Neill said that he does not understand what President Momis was trying to achieve with his political grandstanding over the BCL shares.
“We have had enough of this nonsense and attempts manipulate the peace process for political gain.
“The ABG is very welcome to participate in the consultation process with the landowners, but these shares will go to the people who have a direct stake of the mine.
“I really do not understand what President Momis is trying to achieve with this political grandstanding,” said O’Neill.
He added that the ABG is very welcome to participate in the consultation process with landowners, but these shares will go to the people who have a direct stake of the mine.
O’Neill said the ABG’s views were taken into account in Cabinet, but the decision of the National Executive Council is final.
“Our government is committed to advancing the peace process, and not play petty politics that can only undermine peace.
“I stated in parliament last week that I have deliberately given these shares to the people so that the ABG does not have outright control 53 percent of the mine.
“I wanted a separate vehicle so that the landowners can fully, meaningfully and directly participate in BCL.
“This is better for transparency, and ensures that shares are in the hands of the traditional people to whom they belong,” he said.
On the matter of the mine’s reopening, the Prime Minister said that the national government will not participate as this will be decided by the ABG and the people of Bougainville.
“I understand that under the mining laws of the ABG, only five per cent of income received by the ABG for the mine would be allocated to the landowners.
“I did not believe that was sufficient considering the suffering that the landowners in Bougainville have endured,” O’Neill said.
PM O’Neill further warned of the sensitivities that surround discussion of the mine, and that many of these matters need to be resolved by the people of Bougainville.
“Leaders need to be responsible when discussing issues of national interest and security.
“The distribution of shares for Bougainvilleans will be done by themselves. They will consult on who gets what percentage out of that 17.4 per cent. These shares are gift and we think that it is the right thing to do to pass it over to the people of Bougainville, especially the landowners,” he said.