10 May 2005

Police in PNG's Bougainville warn former resistance members may disrupt election

8:37 am on 10 May 2005

The police commander in the Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville, Joseph Bemu, says disgruntled former members of the resistance could disrupt next week's first-ever elections for an autonomous government.

Meanwhile the election manager, Mathias Pihei, says he's confident that the rebel leader Francis Ona will not interfere with the poll.

Don Wiseman in Buka has more...

"Francis Ona has recently called for the election process to be abandoned, saying the province is already independent, under his Mekamui government. Mr Pihei says while some people are saying Mr Ona will try to disrupt the poll, he's certain the rebel leader will not interfere. He says he's also met with other Mekamui leaders in his office, and they're fully in support of the election. Mr Pihei says the only hiccup - a shortage of ballot boxes - should be solved with a shipment due this Friday."

Assistant commissioner Bemu says his only concern is the resistance members who provided services to the national government during the crisis, have promised to disrupt the poll unless their longstanding demand for compensation for their services is met beforehand. Assistant commissioner Bemu says government officials are working to try to resolve this dispute this week. In Buka for Radio New Zealand International, Don Wiseman.