Opposition Leader Don Polye said stripping the ministry from a Bougainvillean MP who has local knowledge about the issues of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville government was a slap in the people’s face.
Mr Polye has cautioned Mr O’Neill as the minister responsible to treat the outstanding financial issue and Bougainville Copper mine issues among others with care.
“The Prime Minister has been playing down the seriousness of ABG by way of undermining the peace agreement with cuts in funds rightfully owed to the people.
“The scars of the Bougainville crisis are still raw and that discreet protocol and care should be given to the region to prepare them well in the lead up to the referendum,” Polye said.
He has described the minor reshuffle as ‘self-serving and not in the best interest of the country.’
“I see that the reshuffle by the Prime Minister is obviously to achieve political expediency so it is not morally justifiable.
“The reshuffle was done at the time when the ABG President John Momis is suing the government over cuts in funds and looming referendum vote,” said Mr Polye.
The Opposition Leader has called on the Prime Minister to reinstate either the member for South Bougainville Peter Kamma or appoint any other MPs from ABG as the minister for Bougainville Affairs.
“They are fighting for autonomy so it is better to give the ministry back to the Bougainvilleans as they best know their issues more than the Prime Minister,” he said.