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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Nov. 2) – Papua New Guinea Chief Ombudsman Ila Geno has announced plans to set up an Ombudsman Commission office in Bougainville next year.

The office would make Bougainville the first PNG province to have an office with a direct link to the Commission's head office in Port Moresby.

The commission currently has three offices, in Kokopo, Mt Hagen and Lae, that cater to the New Guinea Islands, Highlands and Mamose regions respectively.

Mr Geno said special attention has been given to Bougainville because it is working towards enacting its own constitution.

He thanked the Interim Bougainville Provincial Executive Council for endorsing a draft proposal put together by technical officers from the Commission and the IBPG, paving the way to set up the office.

But the Chief Ombudsman said all complaints regarding leadership matters will still be screened by the head office in Port Moresby for some time.

"All complaints relating to leadership issues will be fed directly to the Commission's head office to investigate because of its sensitive nature until such time the new Constitution of Bougainville comes into effect," he said. "If the autonomous Bougainville Constitution is passed next year, there will be a period of six or 12 months to enable elections of new leaders. In this time the commission will work with the IBPG to carry out extensive awareness programs in the province to inform people about the roles and functions of the Ombudsman Commission."

Bougainville Governor John Momis said Bougainville was very much committed to the ideals of good governance and good leadership.

"In Bougainville our vision is to create a just, egalitarian and democratic society. To do that we need good leadership and governance and so we appreciate the support of the commission to help leaders excel and not be discouraged by the shackles of corruption."

Meanwhile, officials report that no major crimes have been committed in Buka since the arrival of the Australian police.

Bougainville Assistant Police Commissioner Joe Bemu said the Australian police personnel settled in quickly and are working closely with the local people.

He said there is good working relationship between the 10-member Australian team and local police, adding the two teams share vehicles and equipment.

The Australian police personnel on Bougainville are part of the Australian Government's Enhanced Cooperation Program.

November 3, 2004

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