22 Dec 2003

UN Bougainville mission set to continue

4:29 pm on 22 December 2003

The United Nations looks set to maintain its presence on the Papua New Guinea island of Bougainville.

Last week, the UN proposed extending its mission beyond its scheduled end of December the 31st.

And the government of PNG has asked the UN representative to stay until an autonomous government has been set up on the island.

The UN proposal has been to extend the term until the middle of next year but a tentative schedule expects elections for an autonomous government not be held before October.

This comes as phase three of the peace plan requires the resistance forces on Bougainville to destroy their arms by the end of this week.

The minister in charge of Bougainville affairs, Sir Peter Barter, says Peace Process Consultative Committee agreed at last week's meeting in Buka that the weapons be destroyed in line with the wishes of the people.

He says the principle is that the weapons can never be used again, recovered, repaired or used to provide spare parts.