21 Dec 2004

Development of constitution on PNG island of Bougainville leads to drop in support for separatists

11:35 am on 21 December 2004

A leader on the Papua New Guinea Island of Bougainville says progress on finalising a constitution has lead to a drop in support for the Mekamui separatist movement.

There have been reports of splits in the movement, which is lead by Francis Ona and centred in an area that has now become a No Go Zone.

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

The President of the People's Congress, Joseph Kabui,

says the new constitution is a key factor in the drop in support for Mr Ona, 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."