19 May 2005

Confiscated Bougainville guns stolen on eve of election

10:12 am on 19 May 2005

The head of the Observer Mission on the Papua New Guinea Island of Bougainville says 50 guns due to be disposed of before this week's elections, have been stolen from a container.

All weapons collected as part of the disarmament process were supposed to be eliminated before elections can go ahead and the disposal of the guns was meant to occur yesterday.

However Tor Stenbock says on Tuesday someone broke into the container housing the weapons.

Despite the theft, Mr Stenbock says the elections will go ahead as planned.

"Everything is over the whole island just expecting and also very eager to have these elections going on as scheduled and I do not see that this incident is in any way politcally motivated as a means to stop or interfere with the upcoming election."

Mr Stenbock says he thinks the issue should be one for the law to deal with now.

He says the agreement points to a percentage of guns needing to be disposed of and technically that has been done.