18 Feb 2009

PNG to hand back power to Bougainville - says President

11:55 am on 18 February 2009

The President of the Autonomous Province of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea, James Tanis, says negotiations for the handing down of all powers from Port Moresby to his Government are now underway following last week's meeting of the joint supervisory body with the National Government.

Mr Tanis, who was elected President in late December, says in the preceding three years the Government of the late Joseph Kabui had achieved little in taking on responsibilities held by the National Government.

He says progress was stymied by the so far unsuccessful attempt to have the powers to control mining vested in the province, while other powers had been overlooked.

"When there is no progress in the draw down of mining powers it then makes Bougainville not move forward in any other power and function. So the main achievement in the joint supervisory body has been that the process of draw down has now started on all powers and functions that the Government of Papua New Guinea agree to give, and also the preparation for a referendum on possible independence should start now."