20 Dec 2004

Bougainville No-Go-Zone may be ending with passing of constitution for autonomous government

7:08 pm on 20 December 2004

Reports of splits in the Mekamui separatist movement in the so-called No Go Zone on the Papua New Guinea of Bougainville, can be largely put down to the finalising of the province's constitution.

That's the view of one Bougainville leader, Joseph Kabui, the President of the People's Congress.

Francis Ona, who heads the Mekamui, has never taken part in the peace process; has claimed it was imposed and that he would continue to push for full independence.

But there are unconfirmed reports that many of the militants who had backed Mr Ona have withdrawn their support in recent weeks.

Mr Kabui says the new constitution is a key factor because many Mekamui doubted it would ever be approved.

"Now that its been approved, it means the argument that Mekamui has had for a long time, no longer holds any water."

Joseph Kabui.