The National Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government should not be trying to outdo each other in the lead up to the referendum to decide Bougainville’s political future.
ABG President Grand Chief Dr John Momis made this statement as he welcomed the Parliamentary Bi-partisan Committee on Referendum chaired by Southern Highlands Governor William Powi who was accompanied by Madang Governor, Jim Kas and Nuku MP Joe Sungi to Bougainville.
“Both governments should concentrate on how best to engage each other in a transparent and principled manner that is mutually acceptable to both sides and more over beneficial to the people of Bougainville,” President Momis said.
President Momis encouraged an all-inclusive consultative approach with an emphasis on lateral engagement of issues that pertain to the referendum on Bougainville.
President Momis also told the three national MP’s that the implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, which is the political roadmap for Bougainville, must be done in a holistic manner and cover the many dimensions of life that both the National Government and the ABG must take under very serious consideration.
“The BPA in no uncertain terms stipulates its joint implementation by the National Government and the ABG and creates the parameters within the process of self-determination by the people of Bougainville is played out,” Momis said.
Momis told the committee members that imposing ideas without respect to the people of Bougainville will be futile as imposition contradicts with their ultimate growth and development as a people.
The sentiments expressed by President Momis comes at a time when the ABG is facing serious shortages in financial resources, disagreements over the grants owed to Bougainville by the National Government and the recent fiasco surrounding the Bougainville Copper Limited shares divested by Rio Tinto.
Many Bougainvillean leaders have seen these recent setbacks as a strong arm tactic by the National Government in having a firm grip on determining how referendum will be played out.
But Momis has maintained his firmness that both governments must come to an agreement and begin to trust each other and to ensure the BPA is fully implemented without any further delay.