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Goff Welcomes PNG Vote On Bougainville Peace

27 March 2002

Goff Welcomes PNG Vote On Bougainville Peace Agreement Legislation

Today’s successful passage of the final vote on the Bougainville Peace Agreement Bill brings the people of Bougainville the most significant step forward yet towards a lasting resolution to the island’s longstanding conflict, Foreign Minister Phil Goff said today.

“The strong expression of bi-partisan support reflects the collective desire of the people of Papua New Guinea to see peace in Bougainville.

“This legislation puts in place the constitutional framework necessary for establishing an autonomous government on Bougainville and holding a referendum on the future political status of Bougainville in 10-15 years’ time.

“It isn’t over yet though. If they are serious about autonomy, the people of Bougainville must continue with their efforts to free the island from the threat of guns.

“I strongly endorse Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta’s challenge to the people of Bougainville to continue the good progress made over the past month in handing in their weapons.

“I urge all ex-combatants to move to stages two and three of the weapons disposal process to destroy the weapons which were once considered prize possessions so that the United Nations can verify their commitment to the peace process, enabling the establishment of an Autonomous Bougainville Government to begin.

“New Zealand will continue to provide support through its contribution to the Peace Monitoring Group, for as long as is necessary, until this has been achieved,” Mr Goff said.

Ends

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