2019 Bougainville Referendum

Symbolic reconciliation to be hosted in ENB

According to an advance team, led by Advisor for the National Coordination Office of Bougainville Affairs, Dr Henry Okole, there are three reasons why Kokopo was chosen; one being that ENB was where most Bougainvilleans fled to during the crisis, that ENB was the forward base of the PNG Defence Force back then and that ENB is an ideal location for a pre-reconciliation program, which cannot be done in Bougainville where fighting and blood was shed.

He says the second phase of the reconciliation program is set to be held at Panguna, after the Referendum is conducted.

Referendum info via mobile phones

The Autonomous Bougainville Government is set to trial a new mobile phone awareness platform to provide people up to date information on the referendum and Peace Agreement.

For eight weeks starting September 22nd, Digicel users across Bougainville will receive an automated call from the ABG BPA Hotline with a recorded message from the ABG President, Chief Dr John Momis.

A number will then be provided for people to call and hear pre-recorded audio messages – and it is free.

Milestone reached in B’ville Referendum

The referendum will give the people of Bougainville the opportunity to express their opinion on the future political status of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, as guaranteed in the 2001 Peace Agreement.

Following the Joint Supervisory Body’s (JSB) decision last week, polling for the referendum will start on 12th October 2019.

The JSB also endorsed the work of the Post-Referendum Planning Taskforce, which will meet again in the week of 4 March with UN support.

President Momis explains referendum

ABG President, Dr John Momis, made this statement during a recent special Parliamentary Sitting of the Bougainville House of Representatives.

“The world will be watching, and the actions of all of us in this House will be held to account. We must therefore ensure that we manage these expectations,” Momis said.

“The referendum is a milestone, but it will not lead to any immediate outcome. The day after the referendum the hard work of negotiation must begin,” Momis added.

Atolls Constituency to be declared referendum ready

The constituency has 11 wards and a total of population of about 7,000 people.

Constituency Member and Vice President of ABG, Raymond Masono, was in the area last week holding referendum awareness and getting plans ready for the event.

“This is a bottom up approach. Every ward representative will assess and decide in a democratic way, that they are ready to partake in this crucial vote to decide our future,” Masono said.

B’ville youth forum underway

The event started yesterday (August 18th) and will end on the 24th.

It coincides with the annual International Youth Day which falls on the 19th of August. 

It will feature various issues relating to the current peace building efforts and the Referendum Process.

The Forum with the theme “Safe space for youth and opportunities for participation in decision-making within peace building and the referendum process” is supported by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Vital to complete referendum process: Semoso

She says only then, both governments can know what the people of Bougainville want and prepare for the outcome.

Semoso, who attended the 1st Joint Supervisory Body meeting in Arawa last Friday between the PNG Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government, said it’s important that the process of Referendum is complete.

“There’s a lot of pros and cons, a lot of people are saying that we are not ready, but Bougainvilleans are saying, ‘We are ready’,” she stated.

​Former warring factions reconcile

This follows a ground-breaking mass reconciliation ceremony held at the Buleuko Catholic Parish last Thursday between former warring factions.

Former Members of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) and the Bougainville Resistance Faction that aligned with the PNG Army in the Bougainville uprising came together in solidarity to demonstrate their support for peace, come June 15, 2019 Referendum.

A weapon was handed over to local police authorities as a sign of good faith to the ongoing weapon disposal plans while a joint commitment agreement was also signed.

ABG committed to 2019 Referendum road man: Nasira

Nasira is also the Minister responsible for Referendum and Veterans Affairs.  

“Today we have achieved another milestone, signing today (last week) is a significant leap forward because it gives confident for people in Bougainville and the people of Papua New Guinea that the process is alive and well,” Nasira said.      

He made this comment after the signing of the Bougainville Referendum Commission who will oversee the preparation and conducting of the 2019 Referendum.