Weapons disposal vital for referendum: Momis

Main Stories

WEAPONS disposal remains a key issue in Bougainville referendum discussions, Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) President Dr John Momis says.
Momis, who was granted permission to address Parliament through a motion, said weapons disposal was a matter to be taken into account by the national and ABG governments when they set the date for the referendum.
“The peace agreement and the PNG constitution say that whether the original weapons disposal plan in that agreement has been completed is a matter to be taken into account by the two governments,” Momis said.
He said the United Nations-supervised weapons disposal process from 2001 to 2005 was declared complete by the UN even though it was well known that there were weapons outside the process.
“These weapons included those held by the former Bogainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) elements that supported Francis Ona when the peace process began.
“They are known as the Me’ekamui Defence Force (MDF). There has been a major focus on the ABG to get the remaining weapons contained,” Momis said.
“We have had good progress in negotiations between the former BRA and BRF on one hand and MDF on the other hand.”
Momis said the result had been verification of weapons held by MDF personnel, with the total so far being 162 factory-made, and 99 home-made weapons.
He said the MDF and the former BRA and BRF recently signed an agreement to dispose of all of these weapons by Sunday.
“Any weapon held by any person without a licence under the PNG Firearms Act will be treated as a law and order and other issue.
“The MDF are ready to dispose of their weapons because they have been convinced that the referendum is going to be held and that the continued presence of weapons could result in the referendum not being declared free and fair by observers of the referendum.
“While the Bougainville Peace Agreement will not be a complete until the negotiations about the referendum outcome have been completed and implemented.
“Both governments must be ready to continue their cooperation and work to avoid any renewal of conflict.
“Just as the peace agreement was a remarkable success, we now have the opportunity to again develop something new and extraordinary,” Momis said.