26 Jun 2003

Preparations underway in Bougainville for the peace monitoring group's withdrawal from PNG

4:35 pm on 26 June 2003

Preparations are well underway in Papua New Guinea's Bougainville island for the withdrawal of the peace monitoring group next Monday.

Peace monitors from New Zealand, Australia, Fiji and Vanuatu oversaw the collection and security of weapons surrendered by ex-combatants as part of Bougainville's peace process.

Arawa's District Officer, Otto Noruka says he is expecting 400 traditional and national leaders as well as foreign dignataries.

He says ex-combatants and police will provide the security in Arawa.

"there'll be many roadblocks starting on Sunday at midday until Monday afternoon. Apart from that there will be additional checkpoints around the perimeter there has been a lot of awareness in terms of posters and there will be extensive awareness through the PA system starting on Friday"

Otto Noruka - Arawa's District Officer.

New Zealand says it will contribute to a small transition monitoring group on Bougainville led by Australia.

Approval of the weapons disposal programme by the UN Observer Mission on Bougainville is needed before the PNG island can hold elections for an autonomous government.