Momis: Referendum will go ahead

Bougainville President, John Momis, has raised offense, after Prime Minister Peter O’Neill expressed doubt about Bougainville’s bid for referendum, come June 15, 2019.

On Tuesday in parliament, O'Neill categorically stated that there is no guarantee that referendum will take place on the set date, because requirements of the peace agreement have not been met.

“I want to make a very clear position of government, the referendum is subject to all the fulfilments clearly stated in the peace agreement, it’s a long way off so I don’t want Papua New Guineans and Bougainvilleans to think it’s an easy path, that just tomorrow we will wake up and have a referendum, it may be such that it may not be possible,” said O’Neill.

Momis says the PMs Interpretation of the peace agreement in regards to the referendum is wrong and misleading.

“Weapons disposal and good governance are not conditions or criteria for stopping the referendum, they are simply conditions for setting the date – something we both agreed last year should be 15 June 2019 as a target date, but it must be held before 15 June, 2020 according to the Peace Agreement.”

President Momis assured his people that the Bougainville referendum will go ahead – and that the target date remains 15 June, 2019.

“My message to all Bougainvilleans is that the Peace Agreement is clear, the referendum will go ahead.

“To all those who have been working hard on getting rid of weapons, setting up a well-functioning Autonomous Bougainville Government, cleaning up public service – please continue your good work, your work will secure a peaceful and prosperous future for Bougainville.

President Momis said Members of Parliament are closely involved in getting their communities weapons-free and people referendum ready – and that they have been doing this without funding or assistance from the National Government.

“In fact the National Government, through its lack of grant payment is actually hampering and not assisting our drive towards good governance. They have dismally failed to give Bougainville what is due under the Constitution to us – we have not been asking for any more or any less.”

On Wednesday’s (27th September 2017) parliament sitting, Bougainville's regional MP Joe Lera followed up on the Special Intervention fund of K 100 million for high impact projects as per the peace agreement.

“In the spirit of the Bougainville peace agreement can the government continue the funding? If not the full K100 million at least at a reduced cost, “asked Lera.

O’Neill said during the first two to three years the government  gave the funding direct to the ABG, upon seeing little happening on the ground the government decided to make a deliberate intervention by getting involved in specific projects.

“For the first time in Bougainville you can see services there.

“We will put the matter on the agenda for the joint meeting with ABG and come up with a firm arrangement.

“It maybe a reduced amount but certainly we have an obligation as government to continue to fund the infrastructure programs on Bougainville.

“On the restoration grants for Bougainville there are some differences on calculations.

The increases that ABG is suggesting is something we cannot afford, that is the reality. We can agree to the numbers but if we cannot give them the money there is no point agreeing to it. At the joint meetings we will put a ceiling to it, say every year this is the maximum we can give and these are the projects to be spent on.

Meredith Kuusa
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