15 Mar 2005

Bougainville elections preparations going smoothly - PNG Minister

8:12 pm on 15 March 2005

Papua New Guinea's Minister of Inter-Government Relations Minister, Sir Peter Barter, says Bougainville should have an autonomous Government in place by June 30th.

He says preparations for the poll begining on May 20th are proceeding smoothly.

The Minister says prior to the vote a population census will have to be carried out, along with the drawing up of electoral boundaries.

Meetings this week in Buka, which Sir Peter is attending, should finalise a number of outstanding issues.

These include the preferred seat of government, additional training of Bougainville police, an update on the weapons disposal programme and the issue of compensation claims by ex-combatants.

Sir Peter also says that Francis Ona's Mekamui Defence Force has agreed to conduct a census of the estimated 4,000 people who live in the

No Go Zone near the defunct Bougainville copper mine.