The African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Secretary General, Sir John Kaputin, describes the unexpected and sudden death of the President of Bougainville, Joseph Kabui, as "a great shock".In his message from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he was attending the 87th session of the ACP Council of Ministers and the 33rd session of ACP-EC Council of Ministers Meeting in Addis Ababa, Sir John said the news of Kabui's death had reached him as a great shock.
Having known the late President for over 30 years, Sir John said that Kabui was a great son of Bougainville, who believed and fought for the rights and freedom of his people. He was also a very close and personal friend of Sir John.
Sir John said this friendship had extended to include many other Bougainville leaders including close friend John Momis, as well as Paul Lapun, Leo Hannett, and the late Bishop of Bougainville, Bishop Gregory Singkai.
On behalf of Lady Kaputin and their children and extended families, Sir John wishes to express deep sympathies and condolences to the Kabui family and the government and the people of Bougainville at this time of great loss and sorrow.
Sir John revealed that his wife, Leila, had called him from Brussels to inform him of the bad news. The ACP Chief said the leadership, experience, and wisdom of Kabui will be a great loss to PNG as a whole, and especially the New Guinea Islands Region. "In this respect, I wish to join my colleagues from the Islands Region in our moment of sorrow and sadness, as we grief the loss of a friend and fellow leader," he said. "I'm sure that our people join the leaders in sharing this period of grief," Sir John said from Addis Ababa.
In his various Ministerial capacities, Sir John had worked tirelessly to reach a political resolution of the conflict in Bougainville as well as to work for a peaceful settlement of the open conflict that had erupted in Bougainville.
And as Minister of Finance, Minerals and Energy, Foreign Affairs, and more closely as Special State Negotiator for Bougainville, Sir John had worked closely with Kabui and colleagues to reach the peaceful settlement to end the conflict.
As Foreign Minister, Sir John went as far as the Security Council of the United Nations in New York to appeal for help. In his capacity as the Co-President of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary, Sir John had also worked closely with friends and colleagues in the European Parliament and the JPA to ensure that political and economic support was in place for Bougainville, especially for the reconstruction phase.
Sir John, as the Special State Negotiator for the Bougainville, had, in fact, signed the Lincoln Peace Agreement with Bougainville Leaders in Christchurch, New Zealand, and ceasefire agreement on the Australian Naval Ship, Tobruk, at Loloho, Bougainville.
"I take this opportunity to acknowledge the enormous political contribution of Joseph Kabui in the various negotiations. His experience, skills, and wisdom as well as his friendship will always be treasured," Sir John said.