Bougainville referendum

‘Petition free’ referendum

Acting Chief Referendum Officer, Desmond Tsianai, said the end of the petition period on 20 January formally ends the electoral part of the Bougainville Referendum process conducted last year.

“Our sole purpose was to deliver, according to the law, a democratic and credible answer to the question of ‘independence or greater autonomy’ for Bougainville as voted for by Bougainvilleans,” Tsianai said.

Referendum will be credible: Minister

A Referendum Task Force will be set up post referendum to negotiate the process in ensuring the outcome of Bougainville’s future political status is credible.

Bougainville Affairs Minister, Sir Puka Temu, said: “We are committed to ensure the referendum process is credible; that the outcome will be recognised by international organisation like the UN as a credible outcome."

The next important phase now for the Minister for Bougainville Affairs is to establish a task force that will negotiate after the referendum result is announced.

B’ville voter roll preps underway

In doing so, the Bougainville Referendum Commission (BRC) has partnered with Autonomous Bougainville Government’s Department of Community Government to ensure all eligible Bougainvilleans were registered to vote in the referendum.

“It is our priority that all eligible electors are included on the referendum voter roll,” said co-chair of Bougainville Referendum Commission Transitional Committee (BRC-TC) and Bougainville Electoral Commissioner, George Manu.

Bougainville voter roll preps begin

The Bougainville Referendum Commission has partnered with the ABG’s Department of Community Government to ensure all eligible Bougainvilleans get registered.

Bougainville Electoral Commissioner George Manu said the referendum voter roll will be developed through a three-phased process; the first involves verification of the 20-15 ABG electoral rolls against ward voter registries.

Commissioner Manu said phase one is almost completed.

In the second phase, ward recorders will do door-to-door visits to ensure all eligible electors verify their enrolment details.

Momis disappointed with statement

Chief Momis had to verify claims by a former member of parliament, Daniel Tulapi, about the constitutionality of the Bougainville Referendum.

Momis in a statement said it is disturbing that at the eleventh hour, after nearly 20 years since the signing of the Bougainville Peace Agreement by the National Government, a former National Government minister is now making absurd claims that the referendum is somehow unconstitutional.

Awareness vital for referendum: NRI

Team Leader of National Research Institute’s study into the Bougainville Referendum, Dr Thomas Webster, highlighted this during his research presentation to students at the University of Papua New Guinea.

He emphasised the importance of Bougainvilleans having access to vital information that will help them make an informed decision when the Referendum is held.

He said people need to make an educated choice and be able to live with the outcome, even if the outcome is difficult.

Momis pleased with progress

His view follows the recent Joint Supervisory Body meeting held in Arawa. 

The meeting addressed concerns on funding, appointments of the Bougainville Referendum Commission including weapons disposal.

An agreed funding of K1.2 million that has been made available by both governments to kick start BRC operations will assist this exercise to happen immediately.

The BRC will be working closely with Village Ward Recorders with a goal of having a grassroots check on the accuracy of the roll.

Former combatants destroy weapons

This was a significant move towards a free and fair election in the coming Bougainville Referendum.

The ceremony took place last week at the Emeu District Station in Siwai District of South Bougainville.

Former combatants from the area came together to reconcile and strengthen unity.

It was a stage 5 of weapon disposal and reconciliation – a final stage 6 will be held later in the year.

Chairman of the Siwai District Peace Committee, Peter Tengka, thanked South Bougainville MP, Timothy Masiu, for contributing K20,000 towards the event.

Gov’t committed to peace agreement

Speaking at the National conference on the Bougainville Referendum recently in Port Moresby, Mr O’Neill said the Government is very much committed to holding the referendum.

PM O’Neill said 2019 and 2020 are the crucial years for us to ensure the referendum is done.

He is certain that the next JSB meeting in Bougainville will allow for an agreement to the details and of course agree to the Referendum Committee.

He added that the National Government in its wisdom, has also progressed efforts in adhering to our own Constitutional responsibilities.

NRI launches referendum reports

The two reports aim to facilitate discussions between stakeholders and the wider public to understand the referendum and its implications.

The two reports are part of six publications the NRI wants published before the end of this year.

Launched on Monday, the reports provide a historical perspective on referendums as well as practical administration case studies of the implementation of referendums.