Challenges of Bougainville Referendum awareness

Before arriving at a referendum, there’s a need to really understand what it means to be independent, and on the other side, to remain autonomous.

But disseminating this information to ordinary people is a challenge for the National Research Institute, who has undertaken the PNG NRI Bougainville Referendum Research Project.

The national think tank has been carrying out independent research to inquire and inform stakeholders.

To date, at least four findings on this has been shared for public knowledge.

But the challenge, according to Dr Thomas Webster, is that NRI does not have the capacity to extend that information out to ordinary people.

“It’s something we have to work on.  What we’re doing at the moment are foundation studies, this is at a level of theory and linking up with international studies.

“It’s pretty academic. All we can do now is to put the information out on a public arena and the media and others can help to spread this information… pick up key points and disseminate to wider public,” he said.

The referendum is targeted for June 15, 2019, where the people of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville would vote to determine their future political governance system – whether to gain independence from Papua New Guinea or to continue autonomy.

NRI considers this referendum as one of three important national events, along with the 2017 National General Election and 2018 APEC meet.

Hence, Director Dr Osborne Sanida says it is important to note the importance of this referendum and the process involved in this.

“Need to have a credible process and outcome that’s accepted by all,” he said.


(File picture from the 2017 Elections)

Gloria Bauai