60 BOUGAINVILLE LEADERS DISCUSSING DRAFT CONSTITUTION

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By Philip Kepson

RABAUL, Papua New Guinea (December 22, 1998 - The National)---More than 60 Bougainville leaders arrived yesterday in Arawa to debate a draft constitution of the Bougainville Reconciliation Government (BRG) before adopting it later this week, rebel leader Joseph Kabui said last night.

Mr. Kabui said the leaders who came from the three districts included rebel commanders and officials, chiefs and Bougainville Transitional Government members and technical officers led by Premier Gerard Sinato.

"About 60 leaders of the different factions, including Premier Gerard Sinato, are here tonight," he said.

Mr. Kabui said consultation among Bougainvilleans on the adoption of the constitution was in line with the joint communiqué they signed about two weeks ago in which they announced the setting up of the BRG.

The communiqué was signed by Mr. Kabui, Mr. Sinato, and rebel commander Sam Kauona following Parliament's failure to pass constitutional amendments to form the BRG.

The communiqué had stated that they would come up with a draft (constitution) for the proposed BRG to establish a Bougainville People's Congress by the end of this month.

Mr. Kabui said their technical officers had already come up with a draft of the constitution, adding that the leaders will debate it starting today with the hope of adopting it tomorrow.

Mr. Kabui said the copy of the constitution will be made available to the Government to allow necessary consultations among parties to the peace process before the congress would convene its first sitting early in January next year.

He said all input to the constitution came from the BTG and the rebel faction in line with the communiqué, but the leaders were ready to hold consultations with the Government before implementing the constitution.

"We have held consultations with the Government and we are ready to hold consultation once the constitution is adopted to make necessary arrangements with the parties for a smooth transition of BTG to BRG," he said.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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