As Bougainville approaches the targeted year to conduct its Referendum, constituencies in Bougainville were delayed against time to fulfil resolution number 5 of 2016 that was passed in the Bougainville House of Representative. This was for all constituencies to be declared referendum-ready by 31st of December, 2018.
Terra was one of the two Constituencies in Wakunai District of Central Bougainville that witnessed the official declaration on the 26th of December, 2018.
Speaking to the people of Terra at the Wakunai Sports Oval, the Minister for Finance and Treasury and ABG Member for Terra Constituency, Robin Wilson, publicly declared his Constituency “Weapons-Free and Referendum-Ready”.
“If we look at our journey here in Terra Constituency, I think we can reflect that the new journey that we take into referendum will be without issues, without fear or favour, without being intimidated, our focus is already set on what we want, and that is to decide our political future through the referendum,” he stated.
The one-day event saw different factions within Terra Constituency join hands and hand over weapons that were used during the crisis, and other weapons that were withheld. These weapons make up the 13 percent of weapons that were held amongst the factions in Terra Constituency.
Veterans’ representative, Nason Naisori, in delivering his speech, declared that he was present to say sorry and clean up the mess that they created before Bougainville went into the referendum.
“I also stand here to appeal to you not to look at me as a member of a faction, I stand here to tell you that we all stand together united as one people,” Naisori said.
All commanders and leaders within the factions marched with police personnel and handed over the weapons to the Community Government chairperson and vice, who both handed them to Robin Wilson and ABG Women’s Rep for Central Region, Marcelline Kokiai, for containment.
The event was witnessed by a crowd of over 2,000 people of Terra Constituency, including community government chairman and members from the neighbouring Constituency of Rau, chiefs, and other dignitaries from around Central Region.
Reconciliations had been conducted at the ward levels which eventually led up to the constituency declaration on Boxing Day at Wakunai Station.
The Community Government chairman and the deputy then publicly approved and signed the verification on referendum readiness, verifying that Terra Constituency had complied with the ABG Parliamentary motion on referendum readiness and is referendum-ready with a commitment to uphold and advocate for peace building, good governance and a peaceful referendum outcome and beyond.
As also required by the referendum ready checklist and declaration, Wilson also publicly declared and announced that people of Terra Constituency have a commitment to continue with:
1. Civic Education and Awareness
2. Good Governance
3. Electoral Activities
4. Consultation at all levels
5. Peace Building and Political Settlement during the Post Referendum Transition.
(Picture: Autonomous Bougainville Government)