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on July 29, 2008 at 1:44:30 pm
 
     JOSEPH KABUI         IN MEMORIAM                                                                
      A PACIFIC MAN OF PEACE

 

Joseph Kabui (1954 -2008) was the first President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, elected by a large majority in 2005.

 

Originally trained as a Catholic priest, he became Premier of the Province of Bougainville before 1989. Later, during the 1990s, he became a commander in the Bougainville Revolutionary Army. He was one of the few earlier political leaders to have stayed on Bougainville throughout the long years of conflict

 

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the President a ‘skilled mediator and peacemaker who had a genuine interest in the future of his people’ and Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith recognised his ‘key role in restoring Bougainville to peace following the bitter conflict on the island’. The New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters, expressing his great sadness at the sudden death, noted that that ‘Joseph Kabui was a prominent figure in Bougainville long before conflict broke out on the island, and his mana was invaluable  during the peace and reconciliation efforts throughout the 1990s’. ‘His presidency was an affirmation of the decade-long peace process … and he presided over a critical period of stabilisation on Bougainville, which consolidated the accomplishments of that process … (his) strong leadership helped Bougainville emerge from the devastation of civil war, and set it on the path to recovery and progress. His strength of character and unwavering commitment to his people will be sorely missed’.

 

He was buried in his wife’s village Pandorima in central Bougainville.

 
www.radioaustralia.net.au/programguide/stories/200806/s2270512.htm
www.ausaid.gov.au/closeup/bougainville_peace_agreement.cfm                                                                           

 

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