Following a first of its kind Joint Ministerial Dialogue between key ABG Ministers and their national government counterparts in Port Moresby early this month, progress has been made to ensure there is meaningful discussion and a more successful outcome at the upcoming special JSB.
ABG Minister for Peace Agreement Implementation, Albert Punghau, described the meetings with the Deputy Prime Minister, the Attorney General and the Minister for Bougainville Affairs, as fruitful.
“I can assure the people of Bougainville that the government is doing everything it can to progress key outstanding issues,” Punghau said.
“I believe we have achieved a high level of engagement with the national Government. We need to get leaders on both sides engaged and this meeting has seen leaders seriously step up on both sides to solve long outstanding issues.”
“I have trust and confidence that these outstanding issues will be resolved at the special JSB meeting.”
The nine issues identified for discussion are:
- Referendum question(s) to be discussed/endorsed, including the National Government to forward any alternative options
- Engagement of an international security force through regional approach to increase the credibility of the referendum process in the eyes of the international community
- Officially gazette Chair of Bougainville Referendum Commission (BRC) including the two PNG members for the BRC
- Further payments of Restoration and Development Grant
- Further funding for Bougainville Referendum Commission
- Funding for jointly approved Weapons Disposal Plan
- National Government commitment to transfer of BCL shares (19 percent) to ABG
- Unspent salaries savings to be transferred to ABG
- Appointment of two National Government representatives for the Bougainville Senior Appointments Committee
Minister Punghau also announced that a Joint Government Transition Taskforce with his counterpart National Minister for Bougainville Affairs, William Samb, has started negotiations on the post referendum transition period.
“This includes discussions on the transition of current political structures and how to best manage a smooth and peaceful transition and an engaged relationship between both governments after the referendum result is known.”
Minister Punghau said good work was being done at the community level in Bougainville to prepare constituencies to be ‘referendum-ready’ and also prepare the referendum roll.
“Bougainville is doing everything it can to progress the Bougainville Peace Agreement, progress referendum and prepare itself for peaceful post-referendum transition,” he stated.
“The Constituency Referendum-Ready concept shows we have a process to support the two governments and our communities across Bougainville.
“Communities are themselves setting the foundations for smooth transitions into post-referendum process through reconciliations, weapons disposal and dialogue. We need to ready ourselves for our future.”
(ABG Minister for Peace Agreement Implementation, Albert Punghau, left, and Secretary James Tanis during a press conference last week)