PNG URGES CONTINUED PEACE IN BOUGAINVILLE

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, June 30) - Papua New Guinea’s leaders have called on ex-combatants to continue supporting Bougainville’s peace process now that the mission of the Peace Monitoring Group has officially ended.

During ceremonies to mark the end of that mission, the President of Bougainville’s People’s Congress, Joseph Kabui, told Bougainvilleans the peace is in their hands and he admonished ex-combatants not to do anything that might affect the progress made so far.

He said work is underway on the third draft of Bougainville’s new constitution and it should be ready to be submitted to the PNG government by the end of this year.

PNG’s Inter-Government Affairs Minister, Sir Peter Barter, said the government would continue to finance the peace process with $5 million set aside in the budget.

However, James Tanna, himself a former member of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army and now Vice-President of the People’s Congress, said he was wary of the actions of ex-combatants during the changeover period. He said this is the time when Bougainville will be vulnerable.

But Kabui said he hoped that Bougainville would hold elections for an autonomous government next year.

July 1, 2003

Radio New Zealand International: http://www.rnzi.com/ 

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