21 Apr 2004

PNG Bougainville leader Kabui upbeat about disarmament progress

4:02 pm on 21 April 2004

The head of the Bougainville People's Congress in Papua New Guinea says he believes the few remaining fighters yet to disarm are not a significant concern.

Joseph Kabui says the decision by the Bougainville Revolutionary Army's A Company to hand in their weapons is a sign that everyone is now starting to believe in the peace process.

The weapons were dumped at sea at the weekend under the supervision of the United Nations.

Mr Kabui says the A company troops were in the vanguard of the independence movement, and their decision to hand in their weapons would not have been an easy one.

He says there are still some fighters yet to disarm, but he believes they will eventually disarm too.

"The guys that still align themselves under Mekamui are still out there, but basically they are out there in what I can describe as a wait and see situation, they want to wait and see. It's like a political Thomas situation, like Thomas of the Bible, it's a bit of political Thomas in them and they want to just hang around on the fringe before joining in the peace process and I think when the big change is going to come about is when the autonomous government of Bougainville gets off the ground."

Joseph Kabui, who is also the chairman of the Bougainville Constitutional Commission, says the commission now working on the final draft of the constitution and self government is likely to get under way next year.