James Tanis

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James Tanis
2nd President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville
In office
6 January 2009 – 10 June 2010[1]
Preceded by John Tabinaman (acting)
Succeeded by John Momis
Personal details
Born 1965?
Panam Village, Lamane[2]
Political party Bougainville People's Congress

James Tanis (born 1965?[3]) is a politician in Papua New Guinea who was elected President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville in 2008 following the death of Joseph Kabui while in office, serving the remainder of the term from 2009 to 2010. He was previously the Vice President of the Bougainville People's Congress.[4]


Tanis was raised in Panam Village in Lamane, on the border of South and Central Bougainville.[2][5]

Tanis' predecessor, John Tabinaman, took over as Acting President after Joseph Kabui died in office of a heart attack in June 2008. This led to a special presidential election in November and December 2008.[6] There were 14 candidates;[5] Tanis was declared winner with a margin of 13,547 votes over second-runner Sam Akoitai.[7] The election had a poor voter turnout which was reportedly contributed to by heavily armed road blocks, ongoing local disputes, and complaints by many Bougainvilleans that their names were not on election rolls.[8] Tanis was sworn in on 6 January 2009.[9]

Experts have said that the election of the 43-year-old Tanis "represents a generational change" in Bougainville's political leadership.[4]


The Bougainville independence movement began in the 1980s after local landowners closed the Panguna copper mine. In 1989, Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) leaders proclaimed Bougainville independent from Papua New Guinea and established an interim government. A civil war consumed the island for the next decade as the BRA fought the Papua New Guinea military. Tanis is a former guerrilla and commander in the BRA.[2][3] Tanis has been described as having been "once closely linked with the late separatist leader, Francis Ona."[10] He later became "a key player in forging the 2001 peace agreement" following the Bougainvillean civil war.[8] However, Bougainville has been plagued by infighting and tensions from years of conflict.

Tanis was inaugurated as Bougainville's second elected President in a colorful swearing-in ceremony on 6 January 2009, as Bougainvilleans in traditional costumes travelled from all corners of the island to attend the ceremony in Arawa, Central Bougainville.[2][11] The ceremony lasted most of the day and included indigenous music and dance.[12] Before the inauguration, Tanis undertook a trip through some twenty fast flowing rivers and creeks before arriving safely in Arawa for the ceremony.[13]

Tanis served an interim term, completing Kabui's scheduled term before the presidential election of 2010.[3] He said his focus would be on promoting unity in the aftermath of the long civil war.[7] Tanis said he is "not looking at achieving much" during his 20-month term in office, but will ensure peace prevails through reconciliation.[14]

Tanis appointed Ezekiel Massat as Vice President on 19 January 2009.[15]

In 2010, John Momis was elected as the new president.


  1. ^ Laukai, Aloysius (11 June 2008). "Momis sworn in, Caretaker announced". New Dawn FM 95.3. Retrieved 2010-06-13. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Bougainville swears in new president". The Sydney Morning Herald. 6 January 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c "Un ancien sécessionniste élu Président de Bougainville" Archived 11 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine., Radio Australia, 30 December 2008
  4. ^ a b Geraldine Coutts (1 January 2009). "Bougainville President elect prepares for swearing in ceremony". Radio Australia. 
  5. ^ a b "New Bougainvillean leader represents a generational shift - academic". Radio New Zealand International. 29 December 2008. Retrieved 6 October 2011. 
  6. ^ "Funeral for Bougainville leader", BBC News, 10 June 2008.
  7. ^ a b "New Bougainville president promises unity", ABC Radio Australia, 29 December 2008
  8. ^ a b "Bougainville region elects new president". The Age. 29 December 2008. 
  9. ^ "Tanis sworn in as new president of PNG's Bougainville province". Radio New Zealand International. 6 January 2009. Retrieved 6 October 2011. 
  10. ^ "Finishing peace building process likely main task for new Bougainville President". Radio New Zealand International. 29 December 2008. Retrieved 6 October 2011. 
  11. ^ "Bougainville President elect prepares for swearing in ceremony", ABC Radio Australia, 2 January 2009
  12. ^ Geraldine Coutts (6 January 2009). "Bougainville president outlines his vision for the province". Radio Australia. 
  13. ^ Geraldine Coutts (5 January 2009). "Bougainville ready for President swearing in". Radio Australia. 
  14. ^ "James Tanis is Bougainville's President-elect: Former Vice President of the Bougainville Peoples Congress James Tanis has been declared President-elect of the autonomous region". National Broadcasting Corporation. 29 December 2008. Archived from the original on 24 October 2009. 
  15. ^ "Maasat becomes vice president of PNG's Bougainville government". Radio New Zealand International. 20 January 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-23. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
John Tabinaman (acting)
President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville
January 2009 – 10 June 2010'
Succeeded by
John Momis