BOUGAINVILLE URGED AGAIN TO LAY DOWN ARMS

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, Mar. 25) - The Bougainville Revolutionary Army Defense Council on the Papua New Guinea island has appealed to all Bougainvilleans to work together to complete ongoing weapons disposal programs.

The National reports the Council’s chairman, Ishamel Toroama, appealed to residents, including the Mekamui faction of hard-line rebel Francis Ona, to return weapons removed from UN storage containers last year.

Toroama says also that former combatants of the BRA, the Bougainville Resistance Force and the Mekamui Defense force have called for Ona and the leader of the Bougainville People’s Congress, Joseph Kabui, to reconcile.

He says everyone must understand that the elections for an autonomous Bougainville cannot be held until the UN Observer mission on Bougainnville verifies the completion of the weapons disposal program.

Earlier, the Peace monitoring group announced that it will leave Bougainville at the end of June, putting pressure on the UN mission to have the storage of weapons stage completed by then.

March 25, 2003

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com 

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