25 Apr 2003

Bougainville peace monitors seeking last 80 outstanding firearms

10:35 am on 25 April 2003

The leading New Zealand member of the Peace Monitoring group on Bougainville says there are about 80 outstanding firearms on the Papua New Guinea island.

Lieutenant Colonel Josh Wineera says efforts to persuade people to surrender their firearms has intensified because of the PMG's intended withdrawal from the island on June 30.

The ex-combatants have so far surrendered around 1800 guns in the Weapons Disposal programme.

The programme, part of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, must been completed and approved by the UN before the island can begin to set up an autonomous government.

Lieutenant Colonel Wineera says the PMG has 2 months to help Bougainville take the necessary steps towards becoming a gun free society.

"There are about 80 weapons that are outstanding that are owned by about a dozen or so people and they are who we are aiming our efforts at for the next eighty days or so. These are weapons which have been registered but we need to take them to the next level of security. The task itself was in the vicinity of eighteen hundred weapons and that was an enormous task to start out with. Now we are down to the last eighty."

Lieutenant Colonel Wineera

The UN representative on the island said earlier this week that the level of security felt by Bougainvillean's will be the gauge to determine the success of the weapons disposal programme.