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Bougainville Not Ready To Hold Elections

Bougainville Not Ready To Hold Elections By End Of 2004, UN Report Says

Although major progress has been made in the peace process in Bougainville in recent months, the province of Papua New Guinea is not expected to hold elections by the end of the year as planned, Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in a new report on the United Nations mission there.

"Both the Government of Papua New Guinea and the Bougainville leaders remain firm in their commitment to complete the process as soon as possible," Mr. Annan says in his report to the Security Council on the UN Observer Mission in Bougainville (UNOMB).

In the meantime, UNOMB will continue to be required to chair the committee dealing with the peace process - since it is the only mechanism available for links between the Government and the Bougainville parties - and to help in preparations for the elections.

There is concern, he says, that a premature closure of the Mission could have a negative impact on the peace process as it enters the critical months ahead. The Council had extended UNOMB's mandate in July for a final time through 31 December with the expectation that elections would be held by then.

The Secretary-General says the Mission will continue to support the efforts of the national Government and the Bougainville leaders to move the peace process forward in the remaining period of its current mandate.

"Hopefully, when the Council considers this matter later this year, the parties will be in a position to provide it with a firm date for the holding of elections for the establishment of an autonomous government in Bougainville," he says.

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