17 Jan 2005

PNG leaders re-invite Bougainville's Francis Ona to join peace process

5:09 pm on 17 January 2005

Papua New Guinea officials say they are inviting the rebel leader, Francis Ona, to contribute to the peace process, with the upcoming elections of an autonomous government on Bougainville.

The acting deputy secretary for foreign affairs, Tarcy Eri, says 94 percent of weapons have so far been destroyed, but there are still a number of them left in Mr Ona's no-go zone in Central Bougainville.

Mr Eri says with the upcoming election, they've made offers of peace to the rebel leader.

"This is what they've been waiting for, so it's up to them to make that work, and they'll have to do expedite the processes, and all those things that's required for a free and fair election to take place. And it's up to the leaders of Bougainville to ensure these are collected and destroyed in order to ensure free and fair elections in Bougainville."

Tarcy Eri says leaders in Bougainville are now working towards having an election as early as April.