7 Apr 2005

PNG seeks international observers for Bougainville elections

4:26 pm on 7 April 2005

The Papua New Guinea government is to invite Australia, New Zealand, Japan and other countries to send observers to the Bougainville elections next month.

The PNG Cabinet has decided to invite international observers to the first election of the Autonomous Bougainville Government from May the 20th to June the 2nd.

The foreign minister, Sir Rabbie Namaliu, and the intergovernment relations minister, Sir Peter Barter said in a joint statement that the observers would help ensure a free, fair and democratic election.

The United Nations, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat will be asked to arrange and fund a United Nations-coordinated team of about 10 observers.

The decision was made following discussions with Bougainville leaders last month.

Last month, the secessionist leader, Francis Ona, emerged from 16 years of seclusion to publicly declare Bougainville an independent state and the elections unnecessary.