We are ready, govts told

The Bougainville Referendum Commission advised the two governments that it is referendum ready.

During the Joint Supervisory Body meeting in Buka on September 12th, Commissioner Robert Igara told Prime Minister James Marape and President John Momis that the BRC was ready to deliver the referendum.

“We will deliver the referendum not just to a Bougainville standard, or a PNG standard, but to international standards,” Igara said.

“Our aim is a credible referendum, where there is free, fair and informed voting – and where all eligible voters exercise their democratic choice.”

The Chief Referendum Officer Mauricio Claudio provided a full operational briefing, saying that ballot papers had already been printed.

“The referendum ballot paper with the two options provided by the two governments has been printed and is being packaged as we speak.”

The CRO also briefed the JSB on how the BRC had conducted a wide-ranging enrolment process – which would conclude in two weeks, including innovations like SMS roll checking and enrolment outside national geographic boundaries.

The Commission noted however two critical issues for the governments’ attention.

“Bad weather continues to delay our efforts to reach around 1,800 eligible voters on Mortlock and Tasman Atolls. We request logistical air or sea support from the two governments to ensure these communities are enrolled before the issue of the Writ,” Claudio said.

“The second issue is the need for more information regarding the two options. The BRC has a legal mandate to provide for an informed discussion of both options, and this is part of international standards for a free and fair referendum.”

Both the Prime Minister and ABG President acknowledged the large amount of work that was being carried out by the Commission, in challenging circumstances.

“A credible process will give people confidence for the negotiations post-referendum,” President Momis said.

(Commissioner Robert Igara briefing the heads of governments)

Press release