12 Aug 2003

PNG's Bougainville province set for autonomous government

10:23 am on 12 August 2003

Papua New Guinea's Bougainville province has been cleared to set up an autonomous government.

The minister in charge of Bougainville affairs, Sir Peter Barter, says laws implementing the Bougainville Peace Agreement are fully operational following completion of a second phase of disarmament of former militia.

The news agency AAP reports that Sir Peter has a report from the UN Observer Mission in Bougainville confirming that illegal weapons have been placed in sealed containers as called for under a UN-sponsored peace accord.

A spokesman for the national government says the Bougainville provincial government can now proceed with framing a constitution ahead of elections for an autonomous government.

Under the deal forged by Bougainville and the PNG governments, Bougainvilleans will be able to hold an independence referendum within 10 to 15 years.