29 Mar 2005

Anger in Bougainville after claims that Ona supporters carried arms during rally in Buka

9:58 pm on 29 March 2005

There is anger on the Papua New Guinea island of Bougainville after reports that supporters of rebel leader, Francis Ona, carried guns during a rally today in Buka.

Until a rally last week in Arawa Mr Ona had not emerged from his No Go Zone in central Bougainville since the height of the civil war.

In front of several hundred supporters in Buka he reiterated calls for the PNG Government and Australian police to leave the province and dismissed the forthcoming elections, saying Bougainville was already independent.

The provincial governor, John Momis, says he was disappointed Assistant Police Commissioner, Joseph Bemu, gave the rally the green light.

"He did tell that he told them that they would not be carrying guns and they said they would not. Which that was not true - they had guns in the vehicle and many people are very disappointed with that. This is a gun free area and our weapons disposal has gone quite successfully in the Buka area and people are not happy at all that they brought in guns."

Assistant Commissioner Bemu has defended Mr Ona's right to hold rallies and says he did not see any guns.