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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Oct. 12) - Elections for an autonomous Bougainville are expected to be held early next year.

Officials say nominations are to open in March with the voting in mid-April. Counting is scheduled for May.

A joint statement from the Foreign Affairs and Inter-Government Relations ministries yesterday said the National Government has set aside funds to support the electoral process on Bougainville with the assistance of foreign aid donors, including Australia and New Zealand.

"The schedule prepared by the Electoral Commissioner takes a very practical approach, showing what needs to be done to update the electoral rolls, as well as the time, resources and the process involved in giving effect to the electoral provisions which will be included in the draft Bougainville constitution," Foreign Affairs Minister Rabbie Namaliu (Foreign Affairs) and Inter-Government Relations’ Sir Peter Barter said in the statement.

They said the United Nations Security Council has been briefed on the steps leading up to the election of the Bougainville autonomous government.

"The steps involved in preparing for and holding elections are accurately recorded in the report of the visiting mission that came to PNG last month to assess progress in the transition to autonomy and fulfilling the mandate given to the United Nations Observer Mission in Bougainville (UNOMB)," the statement said.

The same information is contained in a detailed diplomatic information paper distributed to all UN Security Council members and officials of the UN Secretariat in New York. An additional brief explains UNOMB’s continuing role and responsibilities under the provisions contained in the PNG Constitution which implement the Bougainville Peace Agreement, including the agreed weapons disposal plan."

The two knights challenged everyone involved to keep the process moving ahead and to keep on encouraging the small minority of Bougainvilleans in the remaining no-go zone around Panguna "to join in and make peace and the implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, including weapons disposal and participation in autonomy, truly Bougainville-wide."

October 13, 2004

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