For at least a decade, die Government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) has been engaged in armed efforts to terminate a secessionist movement on the island of Bougainville off the South East coast of the PNG mainland. In late 1996, the government agreed to hire the firm of Sandline International to provide mercenary assistance, in a desperate bid to regain effective control of Bougainville. In an ironical twist to the cycle of violence and missed opportunities for peaceful resolution of the conflict, the controversial decision to engage Sandline proved to be the very catalyst to facilitate a process which appears to offer a real prospect for a negotiated settlement to the dispute.
The public disclosure of the decision of the then-Prime Minister, Sir Julius Chan, to resort to mercenarism was condemned by regional governments and resulted in widespread civil disturbance in PNG. Ultimately, the Chan Government was overthrown in a general election and the new government of Prime Minister Bill Skate has participated in the negotiation of an agreement to establish an independent Truce Monitoring Group and an end to me Bougainville conflict.
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