BUKA - Veterans of the Bougainville civil conflict have made a commitment to work together towards achieving a weapons free Bougainville no later than the end of next year.
This commitment was made recently at former combatants peace building training facilitated by the Autonomous Bougainville Government’s Veterans Affairs Directorate.
The commitment focuses on a number of matters: peace building, weapons disposal, reconciliation, the referendum on Bougainville’s political future, rehabilitation and reintegration of former combatants, and collaborative peace building and partnership.
The rationale behind the commitment is to ensure that veterans who are an important stakeholder in peace building on Bougainville are utilised to achieve total weapons disposal and as is consistent within the parameters of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
“We reaffirm our commitment to disarmament and assure the government to secure and strengthen good governance through promotion of democracy and respect for human rights and the rule of law,” the veterans said.
Reconciliation between different factions was also discussed during the training and the veterans recognised this as a vital issue.
The veterans said reconciliation was needed between Bougainvilleans and members of the PNG armed forces and police, amongst Bougainvilleans themselves and with non-Bougainvilleans residing on Bougainville.
The veterans also acknowledged the progress by the ABG and pledged to create a conducive environment for a free and fair referendum through awareness raising and weapons disposal.
They expressed their gratitude to local as well as international NGO’s along with the New Zealand and Australian governments for continuing support of peace building efforts.
A weapons disposal plan is being developed and will be endorsed through a former combatants summit next month.