25 Mar 2003

Renewed call in PNG for Bougainvilleans to hand in their weapons

6:22 am on 25 March 2003

The Bougainville Revolutionary Army's Defence council on the Papua New Guinea island has appealed to all Bougainvilleans to work together to complete the weapons disposal programmes.

The National reports the Council's chairman Ishamel Toroama appealing for people, including the Mekamui faction of hard-line rebel Francis Ona to return weapons removed from UN storage containers last year.

Mr Toroama says also that former combatants of the BRA, the Bougainville Resistance Force and the Mekamui Defence force have called for Mr Ona and the leader of the Bougainville People's Congress, Joseph Kabui, to reconcile.

He says everyone must understand that the elections for an autonomous Bougainville cannot be held until the UN Observer mission on Bougainnville verifies the completion of the weapons disposal programme.

Earlier, the Peace monitoring group announced that it will leave Bougainville at the end of June, putting pressure on the UN mission to have the storage of weapons stage completed by then.