9 May 2005

PNG leader on Bougainville wants to explore chiefly role

1:26 pm on 9 May 2005

One of the contenders for the presidency of the Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville, Joseph Kabui, says he wants the chiefs to be more directly involved in the political process.

Mr Kabui's Bougainville People's Congress Party says people should participate fully in development of the province and be allowed to create opportunities for themselves, with the chiefs being critical to this.

Don Wiseman reports from Buka.

"Mr Kabui says it's vital for Bougainville society that the social fabric of the village community is strengthened. He says providing economic opportunities at village level would enhance this, and to facilitate this the chiefs' role could be formalised as a lower level of government. He says they don't want to impose from above but encourage input from the grassroots and the chiefs would act as a conduit in this. Mr Kabui says the formalised chiefs' councils such as in Fiji and Vanuatu are worth looking at and he would like to send of MP's and chiefs on educational visits after the poll."

Elections for the province's first autonomous government will get underway before the end of the month.