Time is of the essence

Time is of the essence as both the Papua New Guinea Government and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville scramble to finalise all measures to ensure the Bougainville Peace Agreement materialises.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and his Ministers met with the Autonomous Region of Bougainville President, Chief John Momis, on Friday seeking more ways forward to fulfil the three pillars of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, of Autonomy, Weapons Disposal and a Referendum on Bougainville’s political status.          

O’Neill arrived just before lunch (BST) at Aropa Aiport, Kieta, in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

He was met by the President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Chief John Momis, his government delegation and the PNG Government ministers that arrived in Arawa the previous day.

The convoy then proceeded into Arawa.

O’Neill then met with the Chief Secretary to Government, Isaac Lupari, who earlier that morning co-chaired the Joint Technical Team meeting with the Chief Secretary of ABG, Joseph Nobetau.

Outside the Awara Youth Training Centre, eager participants waited in anticipation of the two heads of governments to arrive for the opening remarks and the commencement of the Joint Supervisory Body meeting.

After waiting for more than 30 minutes, Chief John Momis was the first to arrive at the meeting venue.

Prime Minister O’Neill arrived a few minutes later.

During the opening remarks, Chief Momis emphasised the important constitutional role of the JSB. 

“At the outset, I ask that we all remind ourselves of the important roles that the Peace Agreement and the National Constitution give to the JSB,” he stated.

“In fact we should all do well to recall that it is the National Constitution that establishes JSB.

“It is a constitutional body with important roles given to it by explicit words in the constitution.”

The JSB’s important role is to oversee the implementation of the whole of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, that means oversight of all three pillars of that agreement; Autonomy, Referendum and Weapons disposal.

It further provides a forum of consolation and conflict resolution between the two governments.

Prime Minister O’Neill said following from the last meeting in December 2017, both governments have proceeded on to implementing some of the resolutions in the last meeting.

“Our efforts are to make it very clear about the real importance of the continuing work that we need to do together in the spirit of partnership and of course, collaboration that will give practical commitment to ensuring there is lasting peace in Bougainville.”

Among the discussions were funding towards achieving all three pillars of the Peace Agreement, appointment of the Bougainville Referendum Commission or BRC and the questions to be asked during the referendum. 

The media, including donor agencies, were then asked to leave the meeting room as both governments held talks.

(From left: ABG President, John Momis, with Prime Minister Peter O’Neill at last week’s Joint Supervisory Body meeting)

Charmaine Poriambep