11 Feb 2004

Bougainville leaders told they can prepare draft three of their constitution

4:32 pm on 11 February 2004

Bougainville's leaders have been told by the Papua New Guinea Government they can begin drawing up a third draft of the island's constitution, despite a continuing concern that the second draft conflicts with the national document.

PNG Government officials have been assessing the draft constitution for more than nine months.

The Bougainville Minister, Sir Peter Barter, says its now ready to go to the Bi-Partisan Committee and that should happen this week, after which it will go to the Bougainville Consultative Committee.

Sir Peter says there is just the one remaining contentious issue where the constitution appears to be in conflict with the national constitution.

He says he wants a political rather than a legal resolution to this, so the Government will accept the responsiblity for the conflict between the documents.

"and once that is put out of the way, taken away, they are free to go ahead with draft three, in fact I have already told them to go ahead, on my trip there last week I told them to go ahead with the third draft"