29 Apr 2010

Bougainville expert acknowledges maintenance of peace

2:36 pm on 29 April 2010

An Australian academic says the first autonomous Bougainville government in Papua New Guinea needs to be recognised for maintaining the peace over the past five years.

This comes as Bougainvilleans are about to go the polls to elect the second autonomous government.

A political scientist at Woollongong University with links to Bougainville, Professor Ted Wolfers, says a number of ex-combatants are standing in the poll and now seem willing to work through democratic processes.

But he says the most obvious achievement of the first years of autonomy is that, in a post conflict situation, the province has remained at peace and a legitimate government has been kept intact.

"Beyond that I think one would have to say that they have laid the groundwork - I don't think they are there yet - on perhaps one of the most important aspects of the peace process, which is the way in which they have been talking to people in the Panguna area, and this seems to be, although there are still divisions, an increasing willingness to engage in peace building and involve themselves, for example, in the electoral process and so on, in Bougainville."