30 Jun 2003

PNG leaders call on Bougainville ex-combatants to continue to support the peace process

6:13 pm on 30 June 2003

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 draught 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, siad the government would continue to finance the peace process with five million dollars 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 Mr Kabui said he hoped that Bougainville will hold elections for an autonomus government next year.