“Bougainvilleans must work to ensure all the pre-conditions of the referendum set in the Bougainville Peace Agreement are met to enable the self determination of Bougainville is done consensually,”
Former Manus Province and Chancellor of the University of PNG, Stephan Pokawin pictured above with President Momis
Story and photos Anthony Kaybing
Bougainville’s referendum does not guarantee the region’s independence but is the process in which Bougainville must follow to determine its political future
Former Manus Province and Chancellor of the University of PNG, Stephan Pokawin said this during the Gathering our Intellectual Capacity toward our Journey to Referendum Seminar hosted by the Bougainville Students Association at UPNG last Saturday.
Mr Pokawin explained that referendum is only exclusive to Bougainville as guaranteed by part 14 of the PNG Constitution and is only available to Bougainville between 2015 and 2020.
“If the Constitutional Commission allows for referendum to be exercised in Bougainville then the ABG is obligated to ensure that it is followed through,” Mr Pokawin said.
Mr Pokawin also warned that if Bougainville misses this five year window then it will not be given another chance as agreed to in the Bougainville Peace Agreement and the ensured with the Bougainville and PNG constitutions.
Mr Pokawin said that Bougainville since PNG’s Independence has charted the course of the country’s politics from the early calls of autonomy and decentralization of which ABG President Chief Dr John Momis is regarded as its key architect.
He also urged Bougainvilleans to create a safe and secure environment that is conducive for the referendum to be held.
“Bougainvilleans must work to ensure all the pre-conditions of the referendum set in the Bougainville Peace Agreement are met to enable the self determination of Bougainville is done consensually,” he said.
Mr Pokawin who was an instrumental figure in brokering peace on Bougainville also shares the same view as President Momis emphasizing that for Bougainville’s referendum to be successful there is an urgency for unity amongst the people.
“Bougainville has given the true meaning of Autonomy in Papua New Guinea as it pursues it political future while also paving the way for decentralization in the country,” Mr Pokawin remarked.
“It has set the pace for development in this country but in order to get to where we want we must work together and to work with the government, ABG to strengthen its capacity,” Mr Pokawin said.