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Goff welcomes Bougainville weapons progress

Goff welcomes Bougainville weapons progress

Foreign Minister Phil Goff today welcomed news that the United Nations has verified completion of Stage 2 of the Bougainville weapons disposal plan.

The announcement by UN Representative Noel Sinclair confirms that most weapons registered under the plan have now been contained in double-locked containers under his supervision.

"Mr Sinclair's statement is a significant milestone in the Bougainville Peace Agreement, as it triggers provisions for finalising a constitution and for preparing the election of an autonomous government," Mr Goff said.

“With Stage 2 completed, I now urge the former combatants to reach agreement without delay on Stage 3, the final fate of the weapons, so the UN can declare that conditions exist for the holding of free and fair elections.

"All the people of Bougainville can be pleased with the progress they have made to date. Their determination and commitment has brought the island within sight of a successful end to the peace process. It is important that the final few steps are now taken as quickly as possible.

"New Zealand can be equally proud to have been involved, along with our regional partners, from the beginning of the peace process. Much, however, remains to be done to address Bougainville's over-riding priorities of economic and social development.

"New Zealand, through NZAID, will continue to offer assistance by supporting projects aimed at community development, law and justice, and building the structures necessary for autonomous government," Mr Goff said.

A small number of New Zealanders are part of the Bougainville Transition Team (BTT), an unarmed civilian group that replaced the Peace Monitoring Group in June. It provides support for Mr Sinclair and will help with Bougainville’s transition to autonomous government.

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