Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape has given his assurance to the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (AROB) that police and army personnel going into the autonomous region will do so without guns and ammunitions.

Marape made this statement during the Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) meeting held early this week in Port Moresby while thanking Autonomous Bougainville Government President Ishmael Toroama for his continued leadership, support and for inviting Papua New Guinea Defence Force soldiers to go back into Bougainville.

“I want to place on record through this meeting and to the media our sincere appreciation to you for making this call,” Marape said.

“I want to also give you my full assurance and to the people of Arob, that under my watch and under any other leadership going forward into the future, Papua New Guinea will not send soldiers and police into Bougainville with guns.

“It is in our shared interest that police or soldiers who go for special operation will go into Bougainville with hats, hands, boots and mind and not with ammunitions or guns anymore.

“In this instance, the soldiers who are going back under our navy, went with food, ration and materials to help in the restoration,” Marape added.

“We mark this again as another historic milestone where soldiers from PNG for the first time are going into Bougainville for care and maintenance, care and restoration in disaster-affected areas.

“So, thank you.

“We certainly look forward to helping Bougainville in that space also as we all turn together into the future.
“And we are working towards, of course, to ensure lasting peace in Bougainville.

“No more guns are fired in Bougainville, especially from the PNG side.

“We will not come back into Bougainville with guns.”

Meanwhile, Marape said he had also written to the Australian government to help where possible with their army to come in and work with PNG Defence Force, in the care, maintenance and restoration of those who are affected by the volcano.