“ The Bougainville day, for this year alone, is very special for Bougainville when the people are getting ready to vote on the future political status of the government and region as a whole.
It was the cry of our ancestors that Bougainville becomes an independent nation.
Their cries haven’t fallen on deaf ears. Leaders and powerful decision makers have all heard our cries. And now it is up to us to make the choice come the Bougainville Referendum on October 12,” he said.
“So come. Let’s celebrate our past and embrace our future. Together we can reach that destiny,”
Acting Chief Secretary Mr Thomas Raivet said that he wants the Bougainville day celebrations to be bigger and better this year.
The Autonomous Bougainville Government was inaugurated on the 15th of June 2005. Today the region will commemorate the 14th Anniversary of the Autonomous Bougainville Government. In the 14 years of its existence, the ABG has gone through many challenges and overcome many difficulties.
Photo Ishmael Milton Palipal
The few challenges and the negatives are minor, and give us Bougainvilleans strength and make us more determined group of people. And the challenges and negatives should be humiliated by the many achievements that the ABG continues to attain and deliver to the people of Bougainville.
Commemorating the event is one way that Bougainvilleans are continued to be reminded on the achievements and instill amongst them a clear sense of patriotism and they take ownership of the entire process of finding a lasting solution to the Bougainville conflict and aspiration.
As the window period on the conduct of the referendum is coming closer to its end and with the agreement on the Question to be asked in the Referendum, it is becoming apparent that the 14th ABG day may be the last to be celebrated under the current Autonomous arrangement, ensued by the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
Based on this the ABG Department of Peace Agreement Implementation (DPAI) together with other ABG agencies, intends to ensure 14th anniversary of the ABG is celebrated differently from the past and previous ABG Days.
The event must be inclusive as much as possible so that all Bougainvilleans across the different levels and organizations fully participate. Particular emphasis will be placed on the youthful population and most importantly all ABG Department must be seen to embrace the day and fully participate directly or indirectly.
Some of the underline objectives of the 14th ABG day include;
- To celebrate on the achievements of the Autonomous Bougainville Government since its establishment and positively look forward to the challenges that are yet to come,
- To promote the identity of Bougainville through the various forms of arts and cultures that will be showcased during the ABG Day.
- Doing away with regionalism and factionalism and promoting peace and unification amongst all Bougainvilleans through arts and cultures and other various forms that will be showcased,
- To promote all inclusive participation of Bougainvilleans in the event. The event as much as possible must draw full participation of all stakeholders including the youthful population, women and elderly, people living with disabilities,
- To inform Bougainvilleans on the recent development pertaining to the Referendum preparation.
The theme for this year’s ABG Day is set as “CELEBRATING OUR PAST, EMBRACING OUR FUTURE…TOGETHER WE CAN.
This theme fits in well as it continues to remind Bougainvilleans that we have come a long way after the cessation of the Bougainville conflict. And as we are progressing, we continue to achieve many positive outcomes for the betterment of the region we all call our home.
And as we celebrate we continue to remind ourselves that we are a peaceful people that does not want to enter into any conflict again. We have proven that through the survival of the Bougainville Peace Agreement without any relapse of war. Above all, the achievements are a result of the contribution of all Bougainvilleans and together we desire to achieve many positive outcomes for the years to come.
This year the celebrations will be big. The celebration for this year is set for two days Saturday June 15 and Sunday June 16. The Program for Saturday will begin with a dawn service at the Bel Isi Park at Buka Town followed by a boat and truck floats, boat race, peace walk, tug of war, biker stunts and the main celebrations held at the Hutjena Oval.
On Sunday the celebrations takes place at the Hutjena Oval. There will be a combined church service followed by traditional dances, a panel discussion on the Bougainville Referendum; a theatre group to entertain with drama; Mr & Miss Bougainville Quest; bands to play till the afternoon and the releasing of the lanterns to remember the 20,000 lives lost during the Bougainville Crisis.
Hi, I am very much concerned if the electoral office and coordinating team have taken into account some of us who will not be in the country and in Bougainville to vote in October. Many of will be still outside of PNG. How will we vote? Are there any systems in place to assist us? Maybe create a platform on the ABG website so we can vote online? Please ensure that there’s a possibility of that… We have a right to vote as well as Bougainvillian citizens for the future of our region. Thank you