BOUGAINVILLE FACTIONS SURRENDER 105 WEAPONS: AVEI

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By Thomas Kilala

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (January 18, 2002 – The National)--The Minister for Bougainville Affairs, Sir Moi Avei, has announced that a total of 105 guns is now stored in containers on the island.

Sir Moi told reporters at a press conference yesterday that the Head of the United Nations Observer Mission on Bougainville, Ambassador Noel Sinclaire, had briefed him, saying that the weapons disposal program on the island was progressing well.

Mr. Sinclaire reported that ex-combatants in the Siwai and Bana districts surrendered an additional 74 weapons during the last two weeks.

Members of the Bougainville Resistance Force (BRF) and the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) surrendered the initial 31 guns to the United Nations Observer Group last year, when Sir Moi and Governor John Momis officially launched the Bougainville Weapons Disposal Program.

Sir Moi said Ambassador Sinclaire had advised him that a faction of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army in the Kongara area, which is one of the rebel strongholds and a part of the Me’ekamui No-Go Zone, had requested that the United Nations send containers up to the area for the rebels to surrender their guns.

The Minister said he was impressed with the progress of the weapons disposal but stressed that there is a big need to see more high-powered weapons handed in by the ex-combatants on Bougainville.

"There is much improvement on weapons disposal on the ground but as I stressed in Torokina, I need to see more weapons being handed in, especially high-powered factory made guns, and even home made guns," Sir Moi said.

He acknowledged the Resistance Force for taking the lead in the disposal program.

Sir Moi added that he was confident that the Parliament session to vote on the first constitutional amendments on Bougainville, which starts shortly, would be fully supported by other parliamentarians.

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

 

BOUGAINVILLE ACTIVIST JOHN CALLS FOR SANDLINE WEAPONS MUSEUM

MELBOURNE, Australia (January 18, 2002 – Radio Australia)---The Australian Bougainville Freedom Movement is calling for weapons used by the Sandline mercenaries to be housed in a Bougainville museum.

Activist Vikki John says the weapons are important to Bougainville's history and local officials should decide their fate.

British-based military consultants Sandline International brought the weapons into PNG when they were hired by the former Julius Chan government to fight the Bougainville Revolutionary Army in 1997.

PNG’s Defense Force Chief of Staff, Captain Tom Ur said earlier that the weapons and ammunition are to be dumped into the sea, within PNG waters, as soon as possible.

He said the weapons are incompatible with those used by the country's armed forces and the ammunition is now past its used by date and is a potential safety hazard.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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