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Goff Welcomes Progress Towards Bouganville Peace

Goff Welcomes Progress Towards Lasting Peace On Bougainville

The Bougainville Peace Process is poised to take a major step forward once a plan to hand in weapons used in the fighting is agreed, said Foreign Minister Phil Goff.

"The question of how to dispose of weapons used in the Bougainville war and still held by the Bougainville ex-combatants has been a major obstacle to finalising a permanent peace settlement.

"Last week the two major resistance groups, the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) and the Bougainville Resistance Force (BRF) agreed at Rotokas in Central Bougainville on a weapons disposal plan.

"Yesterday PNG Minister of Bougainville Affairs Moi Avei announced his full support for the disarmament plan. This will now be referred to the Papua New Guinea Cabinet next week for its consideration and agreement.

"Once the weapons disposal and containment plan is agreed to, the way is then open to finalise agreement on autonomy and ultimately a referendum on Bougainville's future.

"This agreement will be vital to maintaining the momentum of peace talks between Bougainville and the PNG National Government.

"It is 13 years since the war began in Bougainville and over three years now since peace talks took place in New Zealand at Burnham and Lincoln.

"It is time to reach final agreement which will ensure a lasting peace in Bougainville.

"Moi Avei deserves special tribute for the role he has played in getting parties to work together to secure this agreement.

"New Zealand, together with Australia is ready to give financial help and personnel to ensure that weapons can be handed in and securely contained.

"I congratulate the leaders and people of Bougainville for taking the steps which will enable a lasting peace to be achieved," Mr Goff said.


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