” The United States and its Pacific allies have plugged a funding gap that endangered next month’s independence referendum in the Papua New Guinea (PNG) region of Bougainville, a strategic move that also sidelined China, two sources told Reuters.
Western nations are looking to rein in China’s influence in the increasingly contested Pacific, where it has recently drawn away two of Taiwan’s allies, Kiribati and the Solomon Islands, triggering a strong rebuke from the United States.
The vote in PNG’s autonomous region of Bougainville, formerly the site of a bloody civil conflict, will run from Nov. 23 to Dec. 7, and could trigger separation negotiations to create a new nation in the strategic waters of the Pacific.”
The Bougainville visit by the 6 man 60 minutes team was managed by Zhon Bosco Miriona , Steven Tamiung and Colin Cowell from Bougainville Experience Tours Arawa see Part 3 below
General Sam Kauona and Josephine Kauona.
Picture below Steven Tamiung with the 60 Minutes Crew
Part 1 U.S. edges China out of race to fund Bougainville independence vote
Sources with direct knowledge of the arrangements in Bougainville told Reuters that China was not blocked from helping fund the referendum, but neither was it invited to contribute when the shortfall emerged.
“It’s just that the invitation never arrived, or, rather, was never sent,” one source said.
The second source said the West wanted to limit China’s engagement with what could soon be the world’s newest nation, strategically located in waters separating Asia and the Americas.
China’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment on whether it was involved in discussions to assist in the referendum.
“China has always adhered to the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, and respects the independent choices of people in all countries,” it said in a statement.
The funding shortfall emerged early this year amid preparations, overseen by former Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, to register the votes of 300,000 people, most of them spread over the main island of Bougainville, nearby Buka and other outlying islands.
The United States, along with Australia, New Zealand and Japan, helped plug the funding gap of 7.1 million kina ($2 million), according to a breakdown of funding arrangements provided to Reuters by the Bougainville Referendum Commission.
An independence referendum will be held in Bougainville between 23 November and 7 December 2019, with results declared around 20 December. The vote is the result of an agreement between the Government of Papua New Guinea and the Autonomous Bougainville Government. The vote is not binding and the Government of Papua New Guinea has the final say on what becomes of Bougainville in the event of voters choosing independence.
According to the Bougainville Peace Agreement, a referendum which includes the option of independence must be held at the latest by June 2020. The vote was originally scheduled for 15 June 2019, before being delayed to 17 October due to a row over funding. The referendum was delayed again to 23 November at the request of the Bougainville Referendum Commission to ensure the credibility of the referendum roll so more people can vote, most of the promised funding not having been sent by the national government. Both governments said this delay would be the last. Australian Strategic Policy Institute analyst Karl Claxton said there is a wide expectation Bougainville will vote to become independent. In October 2018, former Taoiseach of Ireland Bertie Ahern was appointed to chair the Bougainville Referendum Commission, which is responsible for preparing the referendum.
In November the BRC completed the official ‘certified voter list’ to be used in polling for the Bougainville Referendum. The number of voters is 206,731.
|Voting District||Men||Women||Blank [a]||Total|
|Non-Resident Bougainvilleans [b]||6,846||5,844||25||12,715|
The question to be put to voters is:
Do you agree for Bougainville to have: (1) Greater Autonomy (2) Independence?
- The gender of the voter could not be determined
- Outside the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, in PNG provinces, and Solomon Islands and Australia
- “Bougainville set to hold long-awaited independence referendum”. France 24. 2019-09-27. Retrieved 2019-10-06.
- “Bougainville referendum not binding – PM”. Radio New Zealand. 2019-03-11. Retrieved 2019-03-18.
- “Move to postpone Bougainville Referendum”. Papua New Guinea Post Courier. 2019-02-08. Retrieved 2019-02-09.
- “Bougainville and Papua New Guinea set target date for independence referendum”. ABC News. 2016-05-23. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
- “Independence vote delayed for Papua New Guinea’s Bougainville”. France 24. 2019-03-01. Retrieved 2019-03-02.
- Gorethy, Kenneth (2019-08-05). “B’ville referendum dates changed”. Post Courier. Retrieved 2019-08-05.
- “PNG leader apologises to Bougainville for bloody 1990s civil war”. Australian Associated Press. 2014-01-29. Retrieved 2019-02-09.
- “Bougainville ‘very happy’ to have Bertie Ahern involved”. Radio New Zealand. 2018-10-17. Retrieved 2018-10-19.
- “Question agreed for Bougainville’s independence referendum”. Radio New Zealand. 2018-10-13. Retrieved 2018-10-19.
- “Referendum Roll Completed”. Bougainville Referendum Commission. 2019-11-08. Retrieved 2019-11-08.
Part 3 The Bougainville visit by the 6 man 60 minutes team was managed by Zhon Bosco Miriona , Steven Tamiung and Colin Cowell from Bougainville Experience Tours Arawa