Chair proposed for Referendum Commission

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and the President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville have proposed a nominee to chair the Referendum Commission.

He is former Prime Minister of Ireland, Bertie Ahern. Although this was made known by President John Momis during a recent parliamentary sitting with his government, a formal joint announcement is yet to be made by both governments.

A reliable source within the ABG told Loop PNG that “President Momis and PM O'Neill have written a joint letter to the former PM of Ireland as a nominee for the position of Chair of the Bougainville Referendum Commission”.

The two heads of governments met last week in Port Moresby to discuss progress in implementing key aspects of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

The two leaders committed to hold the next meeting of Joint Supervisory Body in Arawa on the 16 to 17 May 2018. 

It was agreed that a formal announcement would soon be made on the chair of the Bougainville Referendum Commission, and that both governments continue to commit to funding and support arrangements to enable the work of the Commission to proceed.

The formal opening of the recently refurbished Arawa Hospital is expected to occur around the time of the JSB, enabling both leaders to recognise this highly important infrastructure project.

The Prime Minister and the President also discussed opportunities for enhancing economic development in Bougainville, with the Prime Minister undertaking to support the Autonomous Bougainville Government in exploring opportunities for development partnerships similar to that which has been negotiated in relation to Ok Tedi.

(From left: Chief Secretary to PNG Government, Isaac Lupari, PM Peter O’Neill, ABG President John Momis and ABG Chief Secretary Joseph Nobetau)

Meredith Kuusa