TIPNG Bougainville Referendum observers reported that there were no undue or coercive behaviours, such as bribery or threats of violence.
TIPNG received accreditation from the Bougainville Referendum Commission to field observers during the week of polling from 25th-29th November 2019 in North and Central Bougainville.
Observer teams were comprised of TIPNG board and staff and volunteers from the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates Commission, the University of Papua New Guinea, the National Research Institute and the Public Service Commission.
Observation of the Bougainville Referendum was across 28 polling sites in North and Central Bougainville with well over 100 voters interviewed.
TIPNG only observed the polling process and not the counting.
There were two survey tools used; the first to systematically evaluate polling stations and officials and the second tool to collect the views of voters on whether the referendum was free, fair and safe.
The preliminary report stated that voters interviewed by TIPNG observers gave answers freely.
The reported also stated that voter surveys were almost all entirely unanimous in their assessment that there were no undue or coercive behaviours, e.g. bribery, threats of violence, block voting, etc.
While there were other procedural issues by BRC officials, e.g. inadequate provision of provisional votes, limited polling booths and early close of polling stations before 6pm, etc., these were minor instances and could be easily ascribed to under-resourcing or insufficient training of BRC polling officials.
TIPNG will release a full report later in 2020. The report will be released before the first seating of the National Parliament in February.
(TIPNG observer speaking to an elector at a polling station in Central Bougainville)