Australian Commonwealth Coat of Arms

Media release

7 June 2008

Death of Joseph Kabui, President of the Autonomous Government of Bougainville

The Australian Government is deeply saddened by the news of the death of Joseph Kabui, President of the Autonomous Government of Bougainville, and wishes to convey its sympathy and condolences to his wife and family and to the people of Bougainville.

President Kabui played a key role in restoring Bougainville to peace following the bitter conflict on the island from 1989 to 1997.

He had been premier of the province until the conflict broke out in 1989, and became the leading figure in the pro-secessionist ‘Bougainville Interim Government.’

From the mid-1990s, however, he committed himself to restoring Bougainville to peace and to rebuilding its social cohesion and economy after years of violence and destruction.

He played a central part in reconciliation between the rival groups on Bougainville and in peace negotiations with the Government of Papua New Guinea. He was elected as the first President of the Autonomous Province of Bougainville in 2005.

President Kabui, who was born in Central Bougainville in 1954, was a seminarian who later worked as a trade union research officer before entering politics. He died in the early morning of 7 June at the Buka Hospital in Bougainville.

He had suffered from ill health for some years, but demonstrated his commitment and determination by continuing to serve as a community and political leader.

As President of Bougainville, he had pursued a policy of ‘peace by peaceful means’ in his efforts to consolidate the achievements of the peace process and lay a sound foundation for the future of the province.

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