10 Dec 2004

Bougainville leader says Constitution set to become law

11:18 am on 10 December 2004

A leader on the Papua New Guinea island of Bougainville says he hopes the final draft constitution for an autonomous Bougainville will be approved within the fortnight.

Issues such as the number of electorates, the size of the Assembly and the eligibility criteria for candidates have been under the microscope in recent weeks.

Now, the Vice-President of the Bougainville People's Congress, James Tanis, says they have the Government's assurance that the draft is within the PNG constitution.

Mr Tanis says it is to be formally presented to the National Executive Council on Monday and he hopes it will be signed off by the Governor-General within two weeks.

"We are beginning to see the dawn of a new day on Bougainville and the peace process, especially with the consitution now in the hands of the Government of papua New Guinea. And from the Bougainville leaership side, we are very confident that we should not expect any problems because there were a lot of consultations, extensive consultations, between the bougainville side and the national Government, so our expectation of things with the Constitution is that it is just the final touches [that need to be done]."

James Tanis says elections should be held in April, but realistically, will probably take place between April and June.