26 Nov 2008

Bougainville unprepared for independence vote, says former PNG MP

9:16 pm on 26 November 2008

A former Papua New Guinea National Government Cabinet Minister says the autonomous province of Bougainville is unprepared for the vote on possible independence from PNG, due within 12 years.

Sam Akoitai says this is why he wants to become president of the ABG in elections from December 6th.

He says to be ready for the independence referendum as laid down in the Peace Agreement, the province needs to get rid of the remaining guns, improve social services and start producing its own income.

And he says this development won't come from schemes such as the previous Government's giving Canadian company, Invincible Resources, control over the resource development.

Mr Akoitai says there are simple changes that could have signficant effects such as ensuring the province has an export level port for the cocoa it produces.

"Currently this cocoa is being exported from Rabaul and Lae and we are losing out on the derivation grants, which might not be big money but at least it [would] contribute to the local economy in Bougainville."