11 Feb 2004

Bougainville leaders told they must start taking full responsibility for their island

4:35 pm on 11 February 2004

There has been a call for leaders on Bougainville to end their dependence on overseas help and take the island forward.

This week the Bougainville Affairs Minister Sir Peter Barter said both he and leaders on the island are concerned at the United Nations plans to pull their Head of Mission, Noel Sinclair, out of Bougainville at the end of February.

Sir Peter says Mr Sinclair, after four and half years on the island, is the only person with the knowledge of Bougainville and the trust of its people needed to complete the disarmament process.

They would like Noel Sinclair to stay until elections for the autonomous government which may happen by August.

The departure of the teams of international monitors, which have been on the island since 1997, have been delayed on several occasions at the request of Bougainville leaders., as has the departure of Mr Sinclair

Vince McBride of New Zealand's Pacific Foundation says it is time for Bougainville's leaders to take over.

"the ties with Sinclair do need to be cut and the leadership on Bougainville step up to the plate and accept the full responsibility for the future of their own island, I really think that Bougainvilleans have been too content to rely on outside help"