Bougainville MPs unite for referendum

Bougainville’s road to referendum has finally seen some solidarity at the National level with the four Bougainville MPs, for the first time, showing their unity.

The four leaders including newly sworn in Member for South Bougainville Timothy Masiu, Minister for Information and Communication Jimmy Miringtoro, Member for North Bougaiville Lauta Atoi and Minister for Bougainville Affairs Joe Lera, for the first time in history were brought together.

All leaders shared similar sentiments of Bougainville and the lead up to referendum but what was akin to them all was that finally they could share and air their interests and feel included in driving the processes to a successful referendum ‘together’.

Lera, in his current short appointment as Minister responsible, has set out clearly a path both politically and administratively in encouraging, strengthening, fostering and improving the working relationship among Bougainville’s four members of parliament, the President of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, and the ABG.

Lera’s plans on reorganizing the National Coordination Office for Bougainville Affairs, the education of all members of the National Parliament, improving communication, the Joint Supervisory Body Meeting, and the Referendum.

For too long has there been a lax on the issue of Bougainville and the current leadership has pronounced more efforts on awareness, education and dialogue to have more participation.

It was raised as an important matter that all members of the National Government must be educated on the issues of Bougainville to drive the Autonomy and Referendum successfully.

Masiu said that “We must not deviate from our focus as the issue of Referendum is what all Bougainvilleans are looking at right now and they are also looking at the ABG and on us and we need our connections to build Bougainville.”

During the meet, the ABG Bipartisan Committee on Referendum was also at hand with Chairman and Member for the Selau Constuency Joseph Watawi and his members who were highly involved in week long talks on Bougainville Referendum. 

Watawi commended Lera for providing the linkage of bringing the leaders together to promote the purpose of Referendum and Autonomy and also acknowledged the United Nations (UN) for facilitating the referendum committee’s agenda.

A target date to finalize the date of Referendum has been set for June 2019, and a lot is happening now on Bougainville.

The speaker of the Bougainville Parliament Simon Pentanu announced an invitation to the four National MPs that they have reserved seats available for them in the Bougainville House of Representatives and has invited them to take part in ABGs parliament proceedings.

The members will be allowed to take part in dialogue but are not qualified to vote in the ABG.

They have thanked Mr Lera on facilitating the meeting which was applauded as a first of its kind.