30 May 2003

Bougainvilleans told they must decide what to do with stored guns

3:45 pm on 30 May 2003

Papua New Guinea's Bougainville Affairs Minister Sir Peter Barter says Bougainville's failure to decide what to do with the guns collected on the island, is holding up the progress towards an autonomous government.

He says around 93 percent of the guns are now being stored in containers on the island, awaiting a decision on whether or not they will be destroyed.

Sir Peter says he believes that the UN is very close to accepting enough guns have been surrendered, but a decision on what to do with those weapons needs to be made before the peace keepers go in a month's time.

"You are never going to get them to dispose of all the weapons. But I think that the United Nations ambassador would like to see some conclusion or some resolution made with how the weapons are to be disposed of......I think this would help him make a decision a lot faster. He'd feel a lot more comfortable - the same as we would."