Bougainville President Chief Dr John Momis says he is extremely concerned that comments from Prime Minister O’Neil raising doubts about the referendum will produce only suspicion and doubt about his intentions to follow the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
“The Prime Minister’s comments on the floor of National Parliament about the conditions for the Bougainville referendum going ahead are wrong,” President Momis said.
“Weapons disposal and good governance are not conditions or criteria for stopping the referendum, they are simply conditions for setting the date – something we both agreed last year should be 15 June 2019 as a target date, but it must be held before 15 June 2020 according to the Peace Agreement.”
“The Prime Minister’s statement is dangerous – it can mislead people.”
President Momis assured his people that the Bougainville referendum will go ahead – and that the target date remains 15 June, 2019.
“My message to all Bougainvilleans is that the Peace Agreement is clear, the referendum will go ahead.
“To all those who have been working hard on getting rid of weapons, setting up a well-functioning Autonomous Bougainville Government, cleaning up public service – please continue your good work, your work will secure a peaceful and prosperous future for Bougainville.”
President Momis said Members of Parliament are closely involved in getting their communities weapons-free and people referendum ready – and that they were doing this without funding or assistance from the National Government.
“In fact the National Government, through its lack of grant payment is actually hampering and not assisting our drive towards good governance. They have dismally failed to give Bougainville what is due under the Constitution to us – we have not been asking for any more or any less.”
President Momis instead emphasised the need for continued and close collaboration that the Peace Agreement was founded on.
“The BPA is joint creation, to be implemented with integrity by both governments, so that the referendum outcome also has integrity and is mutually accepted.
“These statements are either irresponsible or ill-informed. But these sorts of statements are dangerous – it suggests to people that maybe the National Government does not want to collaborate with us and implement the Peace Agreement.
“On our side, we will continue to stick to the BPA, we will get rid of the guns, clean up the government and get ourselves prepared for foreign investment to help grow our economy to develop our resources.
We must move quickly to explain things to the Prime Minister, to brief him properly – so that he doesn’t create suspicions and instead increase the necessary collaboration leading up to and beyond the referendum vote.
The best way to once and for all resolve the Bougainville crisis is to work together, spend monies as per the Peace Agreement, and link more than a decade of peace with much needed economic development and effective government service provision.”
Hon. Chief Dr. John L Momis, GCL, MHR
President, Autonomous Bougainville Government
Bougainville independence referendum ‘may not be possible’ with key conditions not met: PNG PM
Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has cast doubt on whether an independence referendum will go ahead for the autonomous region of Bougainville because key conditions have not been met.
Part of the peace agreement that ended a decade-long secessionist conflict between Bougainville and Papua New Guinea was the proposal to hold a referendum on independence before 2020.
Bougainville needs to meet certain criteria before the referendum can be held, Mr O’Neill told PNG’s Parliament.
“That includes a proper establishment of rule of law, proper establishment of a government structure on Bougainville, proper disposal of weapons — so all those issues are yet to be met, Mr Speaker, as we speak today,” he said.
“I don’t want Papua New Guineans and Bougainvilleans to think that it’s an easy path, that we’ll just wake up tomorrow and have a referendum.
“It may be such that it’s not possible.”
Mr O’Neill told MPs the PNG Government would help Bougainville resolve the problems, but did not give details.
“We need to work between now and then to work harder in making sure that we attend to the issues that are clearly defined and stated in the peace agreement,” he said.
“I want to assure the [Autonomous Bougainville Government] and the people of Bougainville that we are there to work with them in resolving these issues.”
In January, the PNG and Bougainville governments set up a commission to prepare for the referendum, but did not give it any funding at the time.