BOUGAINVILLE BILLS TO BE READY SOON: AVEI

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (November 5, 2001 -- The National)---The bills to give North Solomons province the constitutional freedom to choose autonomy through a referendum and determine its political future will soon be ready for debate in Parliament next month.

This was made known in an official statement by Bougainville Affairs Minister Moi Avei yesterday.

The bills, which propose significant changes to the Constitution, "should be ready to be introduced, and, if Members agree, debated and put to the first vote in the National Parliament in early December," Mr. Avei said.

However, he said that the success of this process lies in the support and commitment of the Bougainville parties and its communities by "turning words into action and putting away high-powered, factory-made guns immediately."

Mr. Avei also said that the United Nations Security Council has officially received the Bougainville Peace Agreement and that the UN Security Council has also endorsed the arrangements and funds required for the United Nations Observer Mission in Bougainville (UNOMB) to assist in implementing the agreed weapons disposal plan.

"The very positive way in which our friends at the United Nations have responded to PNG's requests is a powerful expression of commitment and support for the Bougainville peace process," Mr. Avei said. He added that this action by the UN challenges "all parties involved to get on with the job."

"The increased responsibilities UNOMB will have in relation to weapons disposal will require additional financial and human resources from a United Nations which is already stretched to the limit by peace-keeping and other commitments around the world," Mr. Avei said.

The implementation of the weapons disposal plan will also call on additional resources from the countries that contribute to the neutral, regional Peace Monitoring Group (PMG) and other friends, he said.

New Zealand has agreed to provide the secure, sealed containers needed to hold the guns at stage one of the agreed plan, Minister Avei 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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