In the last three weeks, Bougainvilleans voted in large numbers and waited patiently for the counting and announcement of results. Voting was a celebration, during which the people of Bougainville exhibited deep rooted respect for human rights and democratic principles and demonstrated a profound commitment to peace.
“The UN commends the Bougainville Referendum Commission (BRC), its chairperson, Bertie Ahern, the Commissioners, the Chief Referendum Officer and the staff of the BRC, for the excellent work in organising and administering the referendum. Above all we congratulate the two Governments for having provided the leadership for such a successful process,” said UN Resident Coordinator in PNG, Gianluca Rampolla.
“Now that the result of the referendum has been announced, we can reflect on the joyous scenes shared from across Bougainville, Papua New Guinea and further afield, as generations of Bougainvilleans had their say on Bougainville’s future; giving life to a promise enshrined in the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
“The UN has supported the people of Bougainville since 1998, assisting, initially, with the peace talks, and, from 2001 with the implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
“The UN has been working hand in hand with the two Governments and has spared no effort to support the implementation of the Peace Agreement through the Joint Supervisory Body; to assist with the review of Bougainville’s autonomy arrangements; to aid the work on weapons disposal; to contribute to raising awareness on the referendum and the post referendum process, with the ultimate goal of increasing confidence and mutual trust between Governments and people.
“These efforts were meant to help creating a conducive environment for the successful organisation of the referendum, a joint endeavour supported by the UN and development partners.”
The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, in his statement, welcomed the successful holding of the referendum on the political future of Bougainville and congratulated the governments of Papua New Guinea and Bougainville, as well as all voters, for their dedication and peaceful conduct of the process.
“This historic referendum marks an important step forward in the ongoing implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement. The Secretary-General encourages the parties to continue to commit to the provisions of the Agreement and to ensure the post-referendum consultation process is inclusive and constructive.
“The UN in Papua New Guinea remains fully committed to support the two governments in the post-referendum period. There are ways to go, and like all paths it may be neither smooth nor straight, but the United Nations will continue to be there as the two governments map their future, together.”
(Members of the Bougainville Women's Federation exclaim joyously after results were announced)