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UN Mission In PNG and Bougainville Extended

Papua New Guinea: UN Mission In Bougainville Extended Through Year's End

Eyeing the possibility of elections in Bougainville by the end of the year, the Security Council has agreed to a final six-month extension of the mandate of the United Nations mission there in order for it to finish tasks related to the implementation of the peace agreement between pro-independence groups and the Government of Papua New Guinea.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan had asked the Council to prolong the UN Observer Mission in Bougainville (UNOMB) through 31 December following a request of Papua New Guinea's Foreign Minister, Sir Rabbie Namaliu.

The Secretary-General noted that since May, UNOMB had reported further progress by the parties in the implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, including the destruction of more weapons that had been collected from ex-combatants.

Mr. Annan also said the Bougainville Constituent Assembly was expected to adopt a new constitution in mid-July - to be approved soon thereafter by the Government of Papua New Guinea - after it was finalized by the Bougainville Constitution Commission.

"This, in turn, will set in motion preparations for the election of the first autonomous Bougainville government…[and] it is the intention of the parties to hold elections by the end of 2004," Mr. Annan writes.

Given such progress and the crucial role of UNOMB in building confidence among the parties, he recommended the six-month extension of the mission's mandate from 1 July to 31 December.

The Council stressed that the extension will be final and asked the Secretary-General to report within three months on a mission-closure plan.

UNOMB took over at the beginning of 2004 from the UN Political Office in Bougainville (UNPOB) - which was established in 1998 to help with the peace process - to complete UNPOB's remaining tasks and to facilitate a smooth transition in the lead up to the election of an autonomous government in Bougainville.

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