21 Mar 2005

PNG considers special payments for former resistance fighters in Bougainville

6:40 am on 21 March 2005

The Papua New Guinea Government is considering making special payments to former combatants who served with the Defence Forces during the Bougainville conflict.

The issue has been considered during a meeting of the Interim Joint Consultative Body in Buka.

The Inter Government Minister, Sir Peter Barter, says establishing which of the ex-combatants served with the resistance is very diffcult.

"It is a big problem because many people, on the names, were not in the resistance and because of doubts in the minds of a number of people it has been very difficult to come up with a final figure. So what we are thinking of is a kind of ex gratia payment, which we have to settle on and we haven't settled on yet, and acceptance from the resistance that they won't make any claims after that point."

The Consultative meeting also reached a deal on payments to cover the election process and the costs of setting up the government.

It was also agreed to site the seat of governemnt in Buka, at least until the Arawa infrastructure is restored.