23 Oct 2003

Anger in Bougainville at PNG Govenrment delay in commenting on the draft constitution

4:48 pm on 23 October 2003

Bougainville leaders are angry at the Papua New Guinea Government's slowness in commenting on the second draft of the Bougainville Constitution.

The draft constitution for the proposed autonomous Bougainville government was sent to the Attorney-General's Department seven months ago for a response to be prepared for Cabinet's consideration.

The Post Courier reports this has not happened and Bougainvilleans are angry that the inaction is delaying plans for elections.

The Justice minister, Mark Maipakai, has apologised to the Bougainvilleans but he says everything possible will be done to ensure the advice is provided by government.

However the president of the Bougainville People's Congress, Joseph Kabui, says the people of Bougainville had been tolerant for so long but their patience was running out.

Mr Kabui says the Attorney-General Francis Damem should be removed because he is a major stumbling block to the whole peace process.

Other leaders have supported Mr Kabui's comments and the prime minister is expected to summon Mr Damem to appear before the National Executive Council and explain the slackness of his department.

Meanwhile the Bougainville Governor, John Momis and National Planning Minister Sinai Brown have appealed to Bougainville leaders to continue to deal with other outstanding issues while awaiting the government's response.