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Goff welcomes Bougainville peace progress

Goff welcomes Bougainville peace progress

Foreign Minister Phil Goff today expressed confidence the Bougainville peace process is heading for a successful conclusion following consultations with the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of PNG in Port Moresby.

“The peace process has made substantial progress and Stage 2 of the weapons collection is almost complete,” Mr Goff said.

“I would urge all former combatants to surrender remaining weapons so the UN Representative on Bougainville can declare that substantial compliance with the Peace Agreement has been achieved.

“That declaration will trigger provisions for the finalisation of a constitution for Bougainville, and preparations for the election of an autonomous government.

“The sooner that point is reached, the sooner everyone can concentrate on the more important issues of economic and social development. These are the over-riding priorities for all the people of Bougainville.

“The Peace Monitoring Group (PMG), which includes 19 New Zealanders, will be leaving Bougainville after June 30. With good will and commitment from all sides, Stage 2 of weapons collection can be completed before then. I would also urge the former combatants to reach agreement on Stage 3, the final fate of the weapons, while the resources of the PMG are available to assist with whatever final arrangement is made.

“After five years of negotiations under the watchful eye of the PMG, it is time to complete the process and get on with the task of rebuilding Bougainville’s economy and social services.

“There is still much to be done to establish a structure of government and to undertake economic reconstruction on the island. The PMG has made a huge contribution to the peace process. Now it is appropriate that the people of Bougainville take full responsibility, and take the future in their own hands.

“New Zealand’s role, however, is not over. We are committed to providing substantial support for Bougainville’s development as the peace process is consolidated,” Mr Goff said.

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