This commitment was made possible through the Former Combatants Intensive Peace Building Training held last month, which was facilitated by the ABG’s Department of Bougainville Peace Agreement’s Veterans Affairs Directorate.
The consensus reached during the training focuses on peace building, weapons disposal, reconciliation, the referendum, rehabilitation and reintegration of former combatants and collaborative peace building and partnership.
The rationale behind the commitment is to ensure that veterans, who are an important stakeholder in peace building on Bougainville, are utilised to achieve total weapons disposal and as is consistent within the parameters of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
“We reaffirm our commitment to disarmament and assure the government to secure and strengthen good governance through promotion of democracy and respect for human rights and the rule of law,” they said.
Reconciliation between the different factions was also discussed during the training and the veterans recognised this as a vital issue.
The veterans said reconciliation was needed between Bougainvilleans and members of the PNG armed forces and police, amongst Bougainvilleans themselves and non-Bougainvilleans residing on the island.
In light of the referendum, the veterans acknowledged the progress by the ABG and pledged to create a conducive environment for a free and fair referendum through awareness raising and weapons disposal and to support both the ABG and PNG Government regulate weapons on Bougainville.
A weapons disposal plan is also being developed and will be endorsed through a Former Combatants Summit that will be convened next month.
The summit will be attended by representatives from PNG, Bougainville as well as development partners as a means for the ABG to start making inroads into achieving total weapons disposal before the referendum is held on 15th June, 2019.
(Bougainvilleans during the recent tax summit)