7 Nov 2003

PNG government to have another look at Bougainville draft constitution

11:54 am on 7 November 2003

The Government of Papua New Guinea is asking Bougainville leaders for another two weeks to study the province's draft constitution, after the PNG Attorney General raised queries about the validity of the document.

The draft was to be returned to Bougainville for further consideration on November 8th.

But the Bougainville Minister, Sir Peter Barter, says the Govenrment needs more time to study the draft, which Attorney General Frances Damem released to them this week after he had held it for six months study.

Sir Peter says the Attorney General has opened a can of worms by questioning whether the PNG Parliament had the right to change the constitution in the way it had to accommodate Bougainville's autonomy.

He says the Government doubts the validity of the Attorney General's concerns and is determined that the issue will not delay the peace process.

"We are not going to allow that to stop the process. We want to move ahead. we want the autonomous government to happen as quickly as it possibly can, in the same way that we want the weapons disposal Stage 3 to be reached as soon as possible."