22 Dec 2004

PNG Governor-General signs new Bougainville constitution

8:16 am on 22 December 2004

Papua New Guinea's Governor-General, Sir Paulias Matane, has signed the constitution for an autonomous Bougainville as approved by the PNG government and Bouganville's constituent assembly.

The constitution will now be gazetted, paving the way for elections in the first half of next year.

The PNG government has sought an extension of the UN Observer Mission on Bougainville to cover the elections on the island which was the scene of a bitter secessionist conflict.

PNG authorities hope the rebel leader, Francis Ona, will soon join the peace process and remaining weapons will be handed in.