21 Oct 2004

PNG Foreign Minister hopes Bougainville constitution will be approved within weeks

5:39 pm on 21 October 2004

Papua New Guinea's Foreign Minister, Sir Rabbie Namaliu, says he hopes the constitution for an autonomous province of Bougainville will be endorsed before the end of the year.

He says this would then trigger the electoral process.

Sir Rabbie says the fourth draft, which it is hoped will be the final draft, is now before the National Government.

Sir Rabbie says they are sorting out issues such as the number of electorates, the size of the assembly, and the eligibility criteria for candidates.

He says the chief electoral officer has already gone into Bougainville, and with the local administration, has drawn up a plan which will be activated once the constitution is passed by the National Parliament.

"And I am hoping that the constitution will be approved and endorsed before the end of the year. In which case we hope that by the beginning of next year the Chief Electoral Commissioner can put the plan into action."