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BOUGAINVILLE, Papua New Guinea (October 1, 2001 – Post-Courier)---Bougainville has suggested the setting up of a community trust fund, which would permit the establishment of economic projects for ex-combatants in exchange for their guns.

Although this is only one aspect of the complete weapons disposal program, it is by far the most significant in that it answers one question that ex-combatants, both within the BRA and the Resistance, have been asking their leaders: What is to become of them in an autonomous Bougainville?

The suggestion was put to a technical assessment committee, which met in Buka on Wednesday and Saturday to look at the details of implementing the weapons disposal program.

The assessment committee, made up of officials representing Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the United Nations, met with the Bougainville administration and its technical officers as well as ex-combatant commanders.

A senior Bougainville official said Australia has expressed interest in providing seed funding for the proposal.

There are also representatives of the Australian and New Zealand defense and police forces in the team to provide technical assistance because of their experience, having been involved in similar programs in other countries.

The official said the committee wanted to seek the views of the ex-combatants themselves and how they viewed the issue of weapons disposal and its implementation.

"The committee is here to look into the finer details of the weapons disposal agreement -- looking into how it will be carried out, who is going to be involved, where the weapons will be stored, the confidentiality, security -- that sort of thing," the official said.

"It is also asking such questions such as: What type of locks will be used to lock the containers in which the weapons will be stored? What will be the size of the locks? How many people will have keys? Who are they? How many containers? Who is going to verify that all weapons will be collected or handed in? And a lot more details.

"What has been discussed so far is the establishment of a Bougainville community trust fund for projects, transportation during the awareness campaign and the total implementation of the weapons disposal plan.

"We are looking at offering some projects to the ex-combatants if they hand in their weapons, and funding for those projects could be drawn from the proposed trust fund.

"Australia has indicated its support for the proposal and has already made a commitment by suggesting an amount which I will not disclose."

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

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