Bougainville News: Creation of #Bougainville Referendum Commission Part 2

 

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The independence of the BRC does not mean the commission works alone of the two governments.

“The two governments will continue to play a crucial role on agreeing on the framework on important matters as the options available in the referendum, security and funding issues,”

The ABG’s Vice President and Minister for Referendum Patrick Nisira said the signing of the agreement between the two governments signified an important step forward : The Bougainville Referendum Commission needs approximately K20 million for it to begin its operations.

Pic Caption: (L-R) ABG Electoral Commissioner George Manu, PNG Electoral Commissioner, Patilias Gamato sign the agreement while ABG Chief Secretary Joseph Nobetau and PNG Chief Secretary Isaac Lupari look on

see Part I of this report here

The Autonomous Bougainville Government continues to make headway in the lead up to the Referendum with the creation of the Bougainville Referendum Commission.

The signing of the agreement between the ABG and GoPNG happened on January 24, 2017 in Port Moresby.

The ABG Delegation was led by the Vice President and Minister for Referendum, Hon. Patrick Nisira and the Chief Secretary, Joseph Nobetau whilst the the GoPNG Chief Secretary, Isaac Lupari and the PNG Electoral Commissioner, all of Bougainville’s National MP’s were present with the exception of Louta Atoi.

The GoPNG Chief Secretary, Isaac Lupari said that the BRC remains a priority for the National Government so funding for the entity will be sourced to cater for the BRC to begin its operations.

The formation of the BRC as an independent and impartial entity was agreed upon by the National Executive Council, the Bougainville Executive Council and the Attorney General.

As per the Bougainville Peace Agreement and the Constitution of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea Section, 340 (1(a)) that provides for the PNG Electoral Commission and the Bougainville Electoral Commission will be jointly responsible for the conduct of the referendum.

The GoPNG, ABG, PNG Electoral Commission and the Bougainville Electoral Commission have entered into an agreement which provides for the implementation of the joint responsibility through the establishment of an independent agency, the Bougainville Referendum Commission, which will carry out the referendum on Bougainville.

The second document to be signed is the Charter that will enable the BRC to operate as an independent inter-government agency that will supervise the referendum.

The Charter will be signed by the Governor General at a later date to allow for the BRC to become operational.

 

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Bougainville News : Signing of the Agreement on the formation of the Bougainville Referendum Commission

 

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 ” The signing of this agreement signifies the progress of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville as we strive to find a lasting political solution that will be the ultimate political future of Bougainville.”

Hon. Patrick Nisira Vice President

The Agreement on the administrative requirements for the conduct of the referendum on the political status of Bougainville was signed between the Government of Papua New Guinea, the Autonomous Bougainville Government, the Electoral Commission of Papua New Guinea and the Bougainville Electoral Commissioner.

The formation of the Bougainville Referendum Commission will give flesh to the referendum process on Bougainville; it will be an independent commission that will oversee the referendum with the hope that the process follows stringent democratic principles and has integrity.

The parties agree that the Referendum is to be conducted through a body to be established by the head of state, in this case the Governor General, under Section 58 of the Organic Law to be called the “Bougainville Referendum Commission”.

In accordance with the Organic Law the electoral authorities will enter into an agreement to implement it through the BRC.

The Bougainville Referendum Commission is an independent entity that has been established by both the National Government and the ABG as the administrative to conduct the referendum through the support of the electoral agencies on Bougainville and PNG.

The signing of the agreement between the two governments signified an important step forward and I give all stakeholders the assurance of the ABG’s full support and respect of the independence of the commission.

However I must remind the parties present at the signing that the independence of the BRC does not mean the commission works alone of the two governments, the two governments will continue to play a crucial role on agreeing on the framework on important matters as the options available in the referendum, security and funding issues.

In his inauguration speech President Chief Dr. John Momis said the Bougainville Peace Agreement is the real basis for us all being here today. It provides us with an exclusive right to self-determination. We can choose and shape our future, a right unique in PNG, and rare internationally. We should celebrate this right, as we do by being here today.

The Peace Agreement is a political and constitutional contract between the National Government and Bougainville. It must be honoured in full.

The Agreement is not a gift without any strings attached. Instead it will deliver real benefits only if we work hard to make use of the opportunities provided to us. We cannot just sit back and wait for the National Government and donors to deliver us to a promised land.

Only we Bougainvilleans can build the new Bougainville we want. We must grasp our opportunities. We cannot ignore the requirements of the Agreement. Without it, we would have no legitimate basis for what we do.

In the last Joint Supervisory Body meeting we agreed with the National Government on (a) the key questions to be asked, (b) the common roll to be used and who are eligible to vote, (c) the body to conduct the referendum, and (d) the date for the referendum. It is very clear that time is not on our side and we need to move fast.

As the Vice President and Minister for Referendum I am proud that we have achieved the final two points that have been agreed on during the last JSB, which are the June 15, 2019 working date and with the formation of the BRC.

The ABG has singled out unity as the key to the successful holding of the referendum and for Bougainville to achieve much progress in the way forward to self-determination and eventual independence.

The ABG’s Referendum Department is already conducting a region-wide consultation for this Government to visit all districts to sit and discuss government policies and programs but more importantly to hear what our communities are saying.

Sometime our communities cry foul on us merely because we have not given them the opportunity to be heard and to participate. We need to take heed of the adage “divided we fall, united we stand”.

The greatest threat to a progressive and vibrant Bougainville is the people of Bougainville to remain polarized between different groupings such as Meekamui, Kingdom of Papala and Ex-Combatants etc. My appeal is for the people of Bougainville to come under the legally constituted entity – ABG.

The next step is for the leaders at the political level to have a continued dialogue between the ABG and the National Government.

We already have the JSB meetings as the avenue for this continued dialogue; we must map out what the Referendum will achieve that is beneficial to the people of Bougainville.

June 15, 2019 has been set as the target date but we must confirm an actual date for the Referendum to be conducted, we also must come up with a definitive question that will offer the options for Bougainvilleans to decide our ultimate political future.

The Bougainville Referendum Commission will now help foster the responsibility of this issue and ensure that we have a successful outcome.

I now challenge Bougainvilleans to focus on weapons disposal to provide secure environment where the referendum process is free and fair.

It is time we all took responsibility of our actions and work hard to make Bougainville great again.

I thank the Prime Minister’s Department and Chief Secretary, Ambassador Isaac Lupari, the PNG Electoral Commission, the ABG Chief Secretary Joseph Nobetau and the hard working Bougainville Administration. I must also make mention of our important development partners; Australia, the UNDP and others who continue to support Bougainville.

Hon. Patrick Nisira

Vice President

Bougainville Tourism News : Our 2017 challenges will be opening up tourism opportunities resulting in quality tour products

 

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  ” Tourism is not an easy industry to grow  and develop as many people and countries might think or expect. In fact it can be a daunting and, at times, difficult industry to be involved in if you don’t have the right advice, proper support, a good kappreciation and sensitivities of others’ cultures, government support, and of course capacity and resources, to start with.

Bougainville can learn a lot and benefit from the advances PNG and neighbouring pacific states have made in tourism. The biggest income earners for our Melanesian neighbours Fiji and Vanuatu, for example, is mass tourism. “

Simon Pentanu see Pokpok Island webpage for info

Picture above and below : Travellers and crew from the cruise ship True North on Pokpok Island 19 December 2016 experiencing a cultural performances

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Governments that have realized and seen the potential to add substantial tourist dollars to their GNP have developed elaborate policies and support to public and private corporations to promote the industry in a big way.

In this venture and adventure local communities who are the custodians of their environment, interesting natural attractions, historical sites and indigenous arts and cultures must see some benefit in the development of tourism by the government and the private sector through tour agents and operators.

Developing what Bougainville offers, step by step and not en masse is the most sensible approach with VAs. Tour companies and local operators and agents can pick and choose with local communities what is on offer regionally and locally around the Island.

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All that begins well ends well means a lot. For Bougainville every little successes in this industry is important. The adage which goes something like, “to succeed we must know what we are doing and we cannot be too satisfied until it’s done and dusted”, is true, isn’t it? 

The advice we often hear how best to rebuild Bougainville is to  build from the ground up is equally true, isn’t it. For starters and from experience it is a good advice to start and keep things simple, affordable and manageable from the start. This involves listening to industry experts, not being afraid to ask questions and have early meaningful discussions and consultations with the buyers of the product we are trying to promote and sell.  

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New Bungalows at Uruna Bay Retreat on PokPok Island

A successful tour or promotion is a win-win outcome for the travelers and the communities visited, including service providers. The win-win formulae requires proper consultations between all parties involved in the arrangements in advance.

This gives everybody a breathing space as no one is choked or shocked not knowing what is happening, who is coming and going, how the community is involved, how the benefits are shared and there are no surprises and disappointments.

Bougainville is a good product to promote. Areas all over Bougainville in the North, South and central will surpass expectations of any traveler if these are promoted sensibly and not just for the sake of quick profits. 

Slowly but surely we can all contribute  towards a sensible policy discussion and a well construct for tourism for Bougainville.

We have a good product on Pokpok Island. for example. Water sports such as Kayaking , surfing and Skin diving have huge growth potential

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More than that, on this first occasion we thank Bougainville Experience Tours for gracing us with three cultural groups from the mainland, prearranged and prepaid to perform for the travelers and crew on the cruise ship True North.

If anything else it does a lot and speaks volumes in familiarizing and promoting unity and union between and amongst different cultural groups from different areas in Kieta district. 

When we look back  this is a win-win formulae as it spreads the benefits directly into communities. The early meaningful tripartite consultations which started more than five months ago between North Star Cruises Australia, Bougainville Experience Tours and Chief Peter Garuai of Pokpok and Uruna Retreat venue owners on Pokpok meant that every “i” was dotted and every “t” was crossed as much as it was practically possible to do so.

There will always be issues and hiccups to sort out when a number of parties and groups are involved in trying to achieve something together. We must be prepared to put a positive spin to any differences and challenges faced.

When dealt with and addressed sensibly challenges more often than not opens up opportunities to try harder to do things better for even better results.

The True North is expected to make another visit in December 2017.