11 Jun 2002

Confidence that elections on Bougainville will go ahead

5:19 pm on 11 June 2002

The provincial administrator on the Papua New Guinea island of Bougainville, Simon Bentanu, says he doubts that a group of former Resistance Force members will be able to disrupt the election.

Some former Resistance members have threatened to take up arms again to stop the election, if , by Friday, they have not been paid several hundred thousand dollars they say they are owed by the provincial administration.

Mr Bentanu says their claim is one of many the provincial administration is assessing.

He says such claims refer to a series of services such as security, the provision of vehicles or the escorting of peace monitors.

Mr Bentanu says the threat to disrupt the vote is taken seriously but he believes most of the former Resistance Force understands that the administration does not have the funds to make such payments.

He says most people on Bougainville see the poll as quite crucial, and many Resistance Force members are actively campaigning..

".....and there are members of the resistance group who are going out and campaigning for the candidates they support, or the parties they support, so they are also very much an intergral part of the election on Bouganville and I do not believe that a small number of people would disrupt elections which is being supported by a large group of their membership."

Simon Bentanu