15 Apr 2005

Bougainvilleans called on to become agents of their own destiny as election process gets underway

5:29 pm on 15 April 2005

Writs have been signed and issued to officially begin the election process on the Papua New Guinea island of Bougainville.

Voters go to the polls from May 20th to select the island's first autonomous government.

John Momis, who recently resigned as Governor to contest the Presidency, and the President of the Bougainville People's Congress, Joseph Kabui, signed the writs in front of a packed conference room on Thursday.

In attendance were representatives from Australia, Deputy New Zealand High Commissioner, National Government leaders, and Australian legal adviser to the Bougainville Constitution, Anthony Regan.

The Post Courier reports that also present were provincial leaders, women leaders, intending candidates and election officials.

The writs are for 41 person assembly comprised of a president, a speaker, three women MPs, three MPs drawn from the ranks of the former combatants, and 33 other MPs.

Mr Momis described the issuing of the writs as a public demonstration of a successful and united work, and he said Bougainvilleans must now become agents of their own destiny.

Mr Kabui, who appealed for a peaceful and respectful election campaign, said that autonomous government in Bougainville is now no longer just an idea but a reality.