29 Jan 2008

PNG PM checks Bougainville progress in key joint supervisory meeting

11:32 am on 29 January 2008

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, has given his Government's commitment to making autonomy work on Bougainville.

The National newspaper reports that Sir Michael travelled to Buka last week for the Joint Supervisory Body or JSB meeting with the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

Met on arrival by Bougainville president, Joseph Kabui, Sir Michael said JSB is a key mechanism for consulting and cooperating with the ABG to keep building peace on the ground.

The JSB meeting is understood to be the first since the new Government was formed.

The main item on the JSB agenda was the ABG's desire for early transfer of the functions of mining, oil and gas from the National Government to ABG.

Sir Michael said while there were important legal and other technical issues including required in order to ensure the transfer of functions, the key is to keep the peace in Bougainville.

Furthermore, he said the removal of barriers to freedom of movement and communication, and the continuing disposal of arms, is vital for restoration and development to proceed.

However, lawlessness remains a hurdle for peace in Bougainville, with police withdrawing their services from the town of Arawa where the district office has also been burned down.