15 Jun 2005

Bougainville's president-elect says chiefs and clans are cornerstone of new government

9:17 am on 15 June 2005

The President elect of Bougainville, Joseph Kabui, says he will be using his inauguration speech today to stress the importance of the chiefs' role in the Papua New Guinea province's future.

The autonomous government of Bougainville is being sworn in a ceremony near Buka this morning, before a crowd of dignitaries, including the PNG Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, and most of his Cabinet.

The Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Don McKinnon, is also attending.

Mr Kabui says the chiefs and clans must be the foundation of the new Government.

"And upon that we will have the other important ideas and the structures from outside to be placed on top of that."

Mr Kabui says former combatants in the battle for autonomy will be rewarded for surrendering their guns and helping the peace process.

That will be done, for example, by perhaps setting up a department that we will probably call the veterans affairs department, to cater for the special needs of the ex-combatants.