4 Apr 2003

PNG island of Bougainville studies new constitution draft

3:37 pm on 4 April 2003

The joint assembly of leaders on the Papua New Guinea island of Bougainville have begun discussing the second draft of a new constitution.

The draft was presented to the meeting in Buka by Joseph Kabui who is the constitution committee chairman and president of the Bougainville People's Congress.

The Post Courier newspaper says for the first time the faction of the pro-independence veteran leader, Francis Ona, had sent a representative to the constitution meeting.

Mr Ona has stayed out of all aspects of the six-year peace process and declared the area under his control as a no-go zone.

The talks come shortly after the UN secretary-general tabled a report in New York looking at the recent developments on Bougainville.

The PNG minister in charge of inter-government relations, Sir Peter Barter, says the international community will continue to support the peace process through the UN Mission in Bougainville until the end of the year.

But Sir Peter says part two of the weapons disposal programme must be completed well before the deadline of the end of June.