SUPERVISORS TO OVERSEE BOUGAINVILLE AUTONOMY

BOUGAINVILLE, Papua New Guinea (The Post Courier, Jan. 17) - The Bougainville Interim Provincial Government has appointed and approved members for the Interim Joint Supervisory Body, to oversee the implementation of autonomy for Bougainville.

The National Government has yet to appoint its representatives.

The appointment was to have been made within three months of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, signed in Arawa in August last year.

Under the Bougainville Peace Agreement, the National Government was required to select an equal number of members to represent the Government in the Interim Joint Supervisory Body.

Bougainville named its members while the National Government still had to appoint its members.

Governor John Momis said the body will oversee the implementation of arrangements for the establishment and operation of the autonomous Bougainville government.

"The body will also prepare the draft legislation to further the objectives of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, finalize matters of detail and resolve any differences or disputes," said Momis. "The autonomous Bougainville government and the National Government will try to resolve disputes by consultation, or, where required, through mediation or arbitration."

Meanwhile the Minister of Mining, Sam Akotai praised ex-combatants on Bougainville for agreeing to get rid of weapons on the island.

He commended them on Wednesday during an ex-combatants follow up seminar on weapons disposal at Arawa Primary School.

He told them that the National Government would not gain much from the weapons disposal, but the ex-combatants and people of Bougainville would benefit from their commitment to the disposal of weapons.

He reminded them that if people were still in possession of weapons then they would face a hard time.

"I want all of you to get rid of weapons. No mater how big, small, short or long the weapon is, put everything in the trunks," he urged.

"As a child of Bougainville and not as a leader, I want these weapons to go."

The ex-combatants were challenged by Akoitai that in future some of them would become leaders of Bougainville and they would not like to lead when guns were all over the place.

"You ex-combatants are the future leaders of Bougainville and I know that you wouldn’t want to lead when guns are floating around everywhere," he said.

Radio Australia reports that the new moves by Bougainville would brighten up avenues in the Papua New Guinea Guinea government which is so desperate to get the disarmament plan back on track.

Despite having failed to meet a December 2002 deadline, the PNG government says it remains committed to the Bougainville peace process.

Papua New Guinea’s minister responsible for Bouganville Sir Peter Barter is confident that the use of traditional chiefs in disarmament negotiations with armed elements will foster the completion of the weapons disposal plan by next month.

Sir Peter says the delayed release of PNG government funds and the theft of contained weapons were responsible for the setback to stage two of the weapons disposal program.

Barter added that this placed some pressure on the government which he says is working closely with the Bouganville Constitutional Development Commission on a draft constitution to be handed to the PNG government next week.

January 17, 2003

http://www.postcourier.com

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