The first $500,000 (K1.2m) has already been made available through the United Nation Development Programme’s Bougainville Referendum Support Project.
The funding is intended to support the Commission to assist in the conduct of a credible referendum, as is the wish of both the Papua New Guinea and Autonomous Bougainville governments. It is part of the K120 million per year provided by Australia to the Autonomous Region of Bougainville through the Papua New Guinea Australia Partnership.
High Commissioner to PNG, Bruce Davis, made the announcement today during a visit to Buka.
“As a witness to the 2001 Bougainville Peace Agreement, Australia wants to see a well-run process that strengthens the prospect for continued peace and stability in the post-vote transition period,” Davis said.
The new commitment builds on Australia’s existing support for the conduct of the Bougainville referendum including AUD$6.6 million for technical assistance for the Bougainville Referendum Commission through the International Foundation for Electoral Systems and AUD$3.1 million for the PNG National Research Institute to encourage a more informed dialogue on the future status of Bougainville.
High Commissioner Davis is visiting Bougainville from 18 to 20 February and will attend a number of meetings, including with President of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, John Momis, and other members of the Bougainville Executive Council.
He will also discuss referendum preparations with Bougainville Electoral Commissioner George Manu and Referendum Commissioner Patrick Nisira.
While in Bougainville, the High Commissioner will travel to the Nazareth Centre for Rehabilitation in Chabai, run by Sister Lorraine Garasu. The Centre is a key partner working to end violence against women and girls and promote social behaviour change through peacebuilding activities.
(High Commissioner Bruce Davis with Bougainville Electoral Commissioner George Manu, right, and Referendum Commissioner Patrick Nisira)