ABG President Hon. Ishmael Toroama Opening Address at the meeting of the Special Joint Supervisory Body
I acknowledge the presence of the Prime Minister, Honorable James Marape, the respective Ministers of Autonomous Bougainville Government and the National Government, Departmental Heads and members of the Joint Technical Team. I also welcome our development partners and international friends who are present with us this morning.
I also make special mention of Moderator of the Consultations, His Excellency the Honorable Bertie Ahern. Despite his absence at the three joint consultations due to the COVID 19 pandemic his advice and guidance through the United Nations proved invaluable.
I am very thankful also to the United Nations for their continued support on Bougainville and acknowledge their presence here this morning.
Prime Minister, from the outset I must commend you and your government’s unwavering support to the Bougainville Peace Process through the implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
It is a process that you inherited from your predecessors and is more than half a century old dating all the way back to before the dawn of Papua New Guinea’s Independence in 1975. Nevertheless, you have shown great foresight in understanding its historical context and the current political processes on the independence aspirations of the people of Bougainville.
The successful outcome of the 2019 Bougainville Referendum is a testament to the mutual cooperation between the National Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government. As the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea who oversaw the successful outcome of the 2019 Referendum, it is only befitting that you are here today to set the final path towards Bougainville’s political settlement that reflects the 97.7% of Bougainvilleans who opted for independence during the referendum.
Through the three Joint Bougainville Post Referendum Consultations we have jointly developed a decisive path on the future political status of Bougainville. We have jointly agreed on a timeline (not before 2025 and no later than 2027) and a roadmap for the ratification of the referendum results in the National Parliament. Finally, we jointly agreed on the documented record of the three consultations now known as the Era Kone Covenant that we signed on April 5, 2022.
Formally known as the The Era Kone Covenant on finalization of the Bougainville Referendum on Independence the Era Kone Covenant;
Captures the outcomes of the three post referendum joint consultations,
Ensures the outcomes of the joint consultations are tabled in the 11th Parliament in 2023,
Commits both Governments to jointly formulate a report to brief the 11th Parliament on its role to give effect to Section 342 of the National Constitution, in this case a report on the three Bougainville Joint Post Referendum Consultations outcomes.
Provides for the respective executive councils of both Governments to make Constitutional Regulations, prescribing all matters that are necessary for carrying out and giving effect to the Era Kone Covenant in accordance with Section 349 of the National Constitution. The Constitutional Regulations will map out the protocols of the ratification process.
The Constitutional Regulations cannot be amended or repealed by the National Government except with approval of the Bougainville Executive Council in accordance with the Bougainville Constitution and the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
The Era Kone Covenant has just been endorsed by the National Executive Council and the Bougainville Executive Council. This formally concludes the process of the post referendum consultations between both governments. A report on the outcomes of the Joint Consultations will be furnished by the Joint Technical Team to brief the 11th Parliament in 2023. Henceforth, the Era Kone Covenant will act as a guide to successive Joint Supervisory Body meetings.
The Era Kone Covenant triggers the next important stage in the Bougainville Peace Process and this is the drafting of the Constitutional Regulations. The Constitutional Regulations will chart the course for the ratification process by the National Parliament while taking into account the referendum results and the Post Bougainville Referendum Consultation Report. In hindsight the Constitutional Regulations will enable the Ratification Process to be an all-inclusive democratic process that will ensure considerations are given to the people of Bougainville as well as the state of union of Papua New Guinea.
Article 1 (iii) of the Era Kone Covenant recommends that the Joint Legal Technical Working Group immediately commence drafting the Constitutional Regulations. I am hopeful that this will commence as soon as the conclusion of this special JSB Meeting.
Prime Minister, my technical team have taken the liberty of formulating a working draft of the Constitutional Regulations. This draft can be used as the baseline for the Joint Technical Team in creating and finalizing the joint Constitutional Regulations that will be presented to both our executive governments for endorsement. As a measure of good faith and mutual understanding I would like to propose that our technical teams use my government’s proposed draft to immediately begin work on the Constitutional Regulations.
Prime Minister, I have a moral responsibility to the people of Bougainville and the twenty thousand lives lost in the Bougainville Crisis to ensure political Independence is granted to Bougainville. However, I understand that you also have a responsibility to the people of Papua New Guinea to preserve the sovereignty of the nation. In spite of our differing views on Bougainville’s future political status I am grateful that we share a mutual respect for each other and our own views. I believe this trust and respect is the foundation of the many progress that we have achieved in the last 19 months.
I look forward to our discussions during this Joint Supervisory Body Meeting.
The Governments of Bougainville and Papua New Guinea have endorsed the Era Kone Covenant at a special meeting of the Joint Supervisory Body in Port Moresby today.
The Era Kone Covenant captures the outcomes of the three joint inter-government consultations that happened in 2021 in Kokopo, Wabag and Port Moresby respectively.
The Era Kone Covenant now marks the conclusion of the joint inter-government consultations on the referendum results, and outlines the mechanism to table the Bougainville Referendum Result in the National Parliament, including the manner in which the National Parliament may ratify the results.
Speaking this morning at the special JSB meeting, ABG President Hon Ishmael Toroama commended the National Government for their unwavering support to the Bougainville Peace Process.
“The successful outcome of the 2019 Bougainville Referendum is a testament to the mutual cooperation between the National Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government,” President Toroama said.
“Through the three Joint Bougainville Post Referendum Consultations we have jointly developed a decisive path on the future political status of Bougainville. We have jointly agreed on a timeline (not before 2025 and no later than 2027) and a roadmap for the ratification of the referendum results in the National Parliament.”
Prime Minister James Marape reaffirmed his government’s commitment to the outcomes that were reached in the past three joint consultations and gave his assurance to the people of Bougainville that his government will continue to work within the spirit of peace agreement.
“We’ve established a pathway that we should work towards and we on the national government side, I just want to assure Bougainville that it doesn’t matter who sits in this chair in 3 months’ time, the work for Bougainville has been set and the work we have set will continue on,” he said.
The Era Kone Covenant was signed by the two leaders earlier this month and further required the endorsement of both governments’ respective executive councils in order to be effected.
The Bougainville Executive Council and the National Executive Council have respectively endorsed the Era Kone Covenant which now signals implementation of the next steps.
This will include the immediate commencement on drafting the Constitutional Regulation – which will be the mechanism that outlines how the referendum results will be brought into parliament.
The Era Kone Covenant further binds both governments to ensure that the outcomes of the three joint inter-government consultations are tabled in the 11th parliament in 2023.
This will also include a report prepared jointly by both parties to brief the 11th parliament on its role in giving effect to s342 of the National Constitution on Referendum Results and Implementation.
It has been one year since my government launched the Bougainville Independence Ready Mission on April 1, 2021.
My Government’s Independence Ready Mission takes on a three-pronged strategic approach that requires preparations for independence to be implemented internally, domestically and internationally.
In commemorating the first year of implementing this program, I wish to remind us all Bougainvilleans that preparing Bougainville for independence is no easy challenge.
It requires government and people to work together and to work harder in this process to actualize our political aspiration for independence.
For us in Bougainville, we have established our Constituency Independence-Ready Committees across all our thirty-three constituencies through the internal prong of the Independence-Ready Mission.
As President, I call on all Bougainvilleans to work collaboratively with these Committees to progress nation-building and state-building activities at the ward levels.
We can only progress through people-participation in development, adopting social responsibility standards, having a change of mindset and cultivating an attitude of self-reliance in our families and communities.
Our political timeline has been set; ‘no earlier than 2025 and no later than 2027’ and it requires a whole-of-government approach to our independence-readiness.
As Bougainvilleans, we must embrace this timeline and see it as a matter of urgency to get our house in order.
In working towards independence-readiness, my government will ensure that we have the proper systems in place that promotes democracy, transparency, accountability, peace and good order in our society.
In the same manner, I call on every Bougainvillean man, woman and child to stand firm with your government in this process. Our 97.7% vote for independence proves that we are united in this process and we must not shy away from the challenges that lie ahead of us.
We stood united as one people when we voted for Bougainville’s independence, and we must stand firm through this journey to deliver independence together for Bougainville.
The Chairman of this meeting; the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea and members of his delegation; the Ministers and members of the Bougainville delegation.
May I also extend a warm welcome to you all to this meeting of our two governments. We have had two consultation meetings since the declaration of the Referendum Results and this is the 3rd and final consultation on the Referendum result. Any political matters remaining unresolved should now go for moderation and may be even for arbitration at an international arena.
I stand here today as a living testimony to the Bougainville Peace Agreement, as a negotiator and as a signatory to the Peace Agreement. When I speak about the Peace agreement, I do not talk theory based on written documents as I have first-hand personal knowledge. In fact, several other leaders on the Bougainville side are also blessed with institutional memory about the Peace Agreement.
I wish to state that as far as my government is concerned, we have taken the “consultation avenue” as far as we can. The timing is now right to address “head on” the long historical issue of independence as expressed in the Referendum Result.
We the leaders of Bougainville hereby declare to Papua New Guinea and the United Nations, the facts on which our long-standing pursuit for political independence is founded.
Noting that the only known cultural and trade links known prior to colonization were with the Solomon Islands and the smaller islands to the east of New Ireland. That the melanin levels of Bougainvillean give unique attributes to the peoples of Bougainville as a distinct group of peoples.
Recalling that the drawing up of geo-political boundaries between the Solomons island and Papua New Guinea including Bougainville was an act of denial by the foreign colonizers without the consent of the Bougainville people.
Affirming that there is a long history of political aspirations for self-determination such as the Muma Rure movement of Siwai, the Napidakoe-Navitu movement of Central Bougainville, and the Hahalis Welfare Society of Buka.
Remembering that as PNG was preparing for Self-Government and Independence, that Bougainville had sent a delegation to the United Nations seeking to be a separate and independent country from Papua and New Guinea.
Noting specifically that on the eve of independence for Papua and New Guinea, that Bougainville announced Universal Declaration of Independence on 1st of September 1975. That the then Chief Minister, Sir Micheal Somare offered “Provincial Government” as a special and unique political arrangement for Bougainville appeasing the separatist sentiments. That the name “North Solomons Provincial Govt” indicated a break from the past political & governance arrangements.
Further considering that the granting of “provincial government system” to the rest of PNG, removed the uniqueness of “the provincial government as a special political arrangement for Bougainville” and “betrayed the Trust” of the Bougainville people.
Noting specifically, that the PNG government failed to renegotiate the Panguna Mining Agreement twice aggravating the concerns of the people. That failure by the PNG Government and Bougainville Copper Limited to genuinely address the concerns regarding the environmental issues, led to the peaceful demonstrations of the landowners.
Remembering that the heavy-handed response by the PNG Government, on innocent civilians including the elderly, women and children, resulted in the escalation of law and order which eventually turned into the full-scale civil war – the Bougainville Crisis. That 20,000 lives were lost from direct combat and from lack of social economic services and that these deliberate actions can be deemed as acts of genocide against a group of people.
Further Specifically Noting that the Government of PNG, using its Constitution and State Institutions, and against international law, and supported by Australia, committed serious crimes against humanity and human rights abuses that can be deemed as acts of genocide in international law. That the states sanctioned measures included the blanket economic embargo and the Sandline mercenaries.
Noting the continued advisory role now being played by Australia Dfat in advising PNG Govt against Bougainville independence.
Further noting that the above history confirms a PNG Govt system that cannot be trusted to stand for and protect its citizens. That against a backdrop of government that cannot be trusted, that independence for Bougainville is seen as the only option to have a political-governance regime that will act in the best interest for and on behalf of the people of Bougainville.
Confirming that the Bougainville Peace Agreement was signed as an interim peace and governance package towards a final political settlement with Referendum guaranteed in the PNG Constitution as the mechanism for deciding the political settlement (highest autonomy; independence).
Further confirming also that the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) had met its part of the Conditionalities (weapons disposal; good governance) for conducting Referendum.
Witnessing that a free and fair referendum was conducted under an internationally sanctioned body the BRC on which PNG was a critical member. That two options were provided with a clear majority of 97.7% voting for independence. That the people have clearly indicated the preferred political settlement.
Noting that PNG government has again displayed its lack of trustworthiness by not fulfilling its obligations in fully funding the Constitutionally guaranteed restoration and development grant (K620m outstanding)
Affirming that various PNG Governments had over the years not acted in the best interest of Bougainville and at times actually betrayed the people of Bougainville. And that the only recourse left for the peoples of Bougainville is to demand for the Government of PNG to accord independence as desired by the 97.7 % vote for Independence.
Declaring that “the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government” as expressed through the Referendum vote. That the indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination.
By virture of that right, they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
I, as the President of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, now call upon the PNG Government to make a clear declaration to this Joint Consultation and to the people of Bougainville, its’ plans for giving independence to Bougainville, within the time frame set in the Wabag roadmap.
Finally, exactly 20 years ago to the day, all of us here today those sitting across the table, as representatives of our people, and those of our friends from the international community, and those who are here to represent the United Nations, including yourself Mr Chairman, exactly 20 years ago, we concluded perhaps one of the most successful peace agreements, in modern times.
It brought our people together, it brought Bougainville together, it brought Papua New Guinean together, and it brought our friends in the international community closer to us, so that we may join hands and work out a long-lasting solution to that conflict.
We have dedicated ourselves to this process, where we would finally resolve, through a Referendum the future of Bougainville in the greater PNG union that was formed in 1975.
But while we the living have made the choice for independence; the future has been earned by those who have perished from the face of the earth in this conflict.
Today Mr Chairman, I stand here to say only one thing: My friend Hon James Marape, the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, I appeal to you, it is now time to let my people go!
Honorable Ishmael Toroama, MHR
Joint Statement at the conclusion of the Joint Supervisory Body Meeting
The governments of PNG and Bougainville today concluded the Joint Supervisory Body Meeting in Port Moresby.
Prime Minister James Marape and President Ishmael Toroama affirmed to work within the spirit and intentions of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
The two leaders further reaffirmed their commitment to the jointly agreed timeframe that has been set to find a lasting solution for Bougainville.
Among key agreements reached today, the leaders tabled the Joint Statement that was agreed to in the Joint Consultations meeting yesterday.
The leaders endorsed the Joint Consultations Statement and directed that both governments’ technical teams will work together to ensure its effective implementation as per the Wabag Roadmap.
Other key agendas discussed in the meeting today include the implementation of the Sharp Agreement and other outstanding financial matters.
The two leaders also noted the recurring agendas that have remain unresolved for a number of years such as the fisheries, BCL shares and the Restoration and Development Grant, and directed the technical teams to ensure that these matters are resolved immediately at the administrative level.
The leaders agreed that the next meeting of the Joint Supervisory Body will be held in March 2022 in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
Following the meeting, the two leaders jointly launched the Bougainville Socio-Economic Baseline Survey Report.
The Baseline Survey Report is an activity led jointly by the ABG and National Department of Commerce, and provides the government with complete data on Bougainville’s current socio-economic situation, and proposes policy interventions for the government to implement going forward.
” It is said that some of one’s best personal and country’s successes in life follow after great adversities and disappointments.
How many of us have come through the best of times, the worst of times or when adversity is likely to take us to the brink.
It turns out sometimes this disposition may be a sign from heaven that some marked successes may follow.”
Simon Pentanu : Photo above : A welcoming society that prides in showing its land and its natural beauty, its cultures and traditions, sharing and caring and peace and wellbeing in its communities speaks volumes.
Following are some personal perspectives that are true to Bougainville where we have as private individuals, businessmen, as political leaders, church leaders and as emerging women leaders and youths have the best opportunities in the country to change things in the Region for the better.
This is especially so when the Island has gone through and dealt with every conceivable problem that brought a people to its knees, only to genuflect to a Higher Force and refuse to be broken.
WHY shouldn’t we make our world a new place, a multi-racial, cross-cultural Island of shared benefits and opportunities. We must grab the opportunities we have with both hands. Let us not squander these opportunities and gains we have created. It will take and involve people from other nationalities alongside Bougainvilleans to rebuild the Island. This is what it takes in nation building.
A resilience to pursue what we know to be true and believe into the future. Resilience means accepting our reality even if the situation is less desirable than that we were in before. Let us continue to be resilient, a trait that has become an integral part of the people’s leavening modus operandi out of a devastating crisis. Resilience always pays.
We must always care. Care as a people, care for each other. The Government must care and assume responsibility and obligation in rebuilding Bougainville in the conventional sense, for its people, particularly in the ommunities that comprise the population.
With caring comes the duty to protect, provide without expecting anything in return but with leaders and public office-holders exuding clear sense of responsibility for the greater good.
In caring and in our duty of care we must be all too aware that that the greatest threat to Bougainville, and to any society in the long term is not arms or weapons but carelessness often giving rise to bad governance.
The Bougainville society will be made or unmade by how much attention, commitment, personal and communal care and respect we give to one another and to the land of our birth and upbringing. And too, by asking ourselves how much of what we say do we practice in reality starting at a personal level.
The perception of other people, other societies, other countries about us is important. Confidence and assurance in what we offer and how we offer ourselves as a good and safe product is an important part of this perception.
Tourism and travel to Bougainville can give us a good indicator in how we are perceived by the outside world that is out there. Law and order in society also ranks high in this regard. So too good investment policies and safe investment climate. No nation is an Island, much less so a hermit.
Let us care enough and hold ourselves to the highest accountability standards starting at the base as individuals and expecting as well as respecting our government to live up to the same virtues and standards. Let us not just utter or give lip service to good governance. Good governance is the most important standard of measure that will make or break Bougainville. This responsibility must be borne equally in many respects by the governers and the governoned alike.
Let us also care about and respect other people. Respect transcends all barriers. Let us not do unto others what they would not do unto us.
There is a lot going for Bougainville.
Politically a lot of the important aspects of the political journey has been jointly mapped out with the National Government. It was never going to be easy but the BPA and the amendments to the national constitution gave legal effect and recognition, as well as imperative, on both sides, to tread through this in a careful, considered and measured way. It can be an example to the rest of the world that bellicose rhetoric or behaviour has not got in the way of any of the negotiations thus far.
Today we celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) that was signed between the people of Bougainville and the Government of Papua New Guinea on August 30, 2001.
The Bougainville Peace Agreement formally ended the Bougainville Crisis and signified the cessation of hostilities between the people of Bougainville and the Government of Papua New Guinea.
It closed one of the darkest chapters of PNG and Bougainville’s history. The BPA set the foundation for peace and opened the way for Bougainville to pursue our aspirations on self-determination.
In the last twenty years our people, our leaders and the Autonomous Bougainville Government have shown great resilience in maintaining our commitment to the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
Our endeavor to attain political independence for Bougainville has always been within the parameters of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
Our commitment has given credibility to the process espoused by the BPA by successfully implementing the requirements of the BPA’s three main pillars:
2. Weapons Disposal
We have achieved Autonomy, we have achieved Weapons Disposal and we have successfully held a Referendum with an overwhelming 97.7 percent of Bougainvilleans who have opted for an Independent Sovereign State of Bougainville.
The theme for the 20th Anniversary of the BPA “Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Bougainville Peace Agreement as the Cornerstone of our Independence Mission” is a testament to these achievements.
It also a declaration by our government and our people of our resolve and the journey we have already begun.
We have enjoyed twenty years of peace under the Bougainville Peace Agreement and the autonomous arrangements that created the ABG.
The next five years are going to be critical as the ABG has declared its position to the National Government and we have set a timeline (2025 – 2027) for Bougainville’s final political settlement.
I must thank the Prime Minister Hon. James Marape and the National Government for their continued commitment on the implementation of the BPA, we have come this far in the spirit of friendship and equal partnership.
However, there are outstanding issues such as intergovernmental finance arrangements, drawdown of powers and the joint autonomy review.
In light of this achievable challenges I recognize the Joint Supervisory Body as the appropriate medium to discuss these issues.
In the face of adversity, we have shown courage by defending our land and our people against an oppressive regime and by the same spirit we have proved our valiance to accept peace. Our journey is not yet over, the next chapter in our history requires our people to unite and to continue to work hard to support our government.
History has taught us that peace by peaceful means has been the only answer to Bougainville’s progress. Hence we must embrace the values and principles that promote peace not only for our time but a peace for all time to come on Bougainville.
As a signatory to the Bougainville Peace Agreement and moreover as President of Bougainville I am proud of the progress we have made despite the many challenges that came our way.
I pay tribute to Bougainville’s past and present leadership for their immense contribution to making Bougainville realize its ultimate political future and that is independence.
“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.”
Happy 20th Bougainville Peace Agreement Anniversary Celebrations to you all.
Part 1 of 2 The ABG President and his delegation have arrived back in Bougainville to a first-of-its kind welcome by the people following the successful outcome of the joint government meetings in Wabag, Enga Province.
President Hon. Ishmael Toroama and his delegation were led in procession by a traditional cultural group from the Ieta Village in Buka, to the Bel Isi Park where the government leaders provided detailed updates on the outcomes of the Joint Inter-Government Consultations and the Joint Supervisory Body meetings that took place in Wabag on Tuesday this week.
President Toroama when speaking on the outcomes of the joint meetings reassured the people that his government’s key agenda is to deliver independence for Bougainville.
At the conclusion of the Joint Government Consultations, the PNG Prime Minister and ABG President had agreed that a political settlement will be determined by both governments no earlier than 2025 and no later than 2027.
The leaders further agreed that a joint roadmap that contains key activities will be used to guide both governments to implement key activities between now and 2027.
Key activities in this jointly agreed roadmap include implementing the SHARP Agreement, amending the National Constitution and preparation for the drafting of the Bougainville Independence Constitution, among others.
President Toroama called on the people to support the government saying that it is not only the government’s responsibility, but all individual Bougainvillean’s responsibility to drive their efforts towards preparing Bougainville for independence.
Part 2 : People of Bougainville have chosen the road to independence and it is Bougainville’s task as leaders and members to bring our journey on independence to our doorstep.
This is the challenge President Honorable Ishmael Toroama issued when addressing the Bougainville Leader’s Consultation Forum .
“We have rejected autonomy that is why our government is pursuing this and I want to thank all the leaders present here – Bougainville Independence Mission Advisors, ABG Ministers and Members, administration and the prayers of the people of Bougainville for achieving much from the second consultation,” he said.
President Toroama said the team had achieved much during the recent trip because the Prime Minister had acknowledged Bougainville on its journey through the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA).
He thanked the Prime Minister for the positive achievement in the joint consultation meeting and the outcome of the statement setting 2027 as a target year for Bougainville; however, he also reiterated that the challenge was on all leaders of Bougainville to make sure there was a good progress before 2025 for a smooth transition.
President Toroama said the outcome of the statement is a joint creation by the ABG and PNG, however, greater responsibility was upon the leaders.
“All leaders present here today, you have that duty and responsibility to make sure before 2025, we make a good progress. If we can make a good progress from now till 2025, then we will walk right into the date we have set,” he said.
According to the President the joint statement has put a burden on Bougainville and the pressure is on Bougainville to actualize this statement, thus he called on the department heads, workforce in the public service and the people of Bougainville to work together to actualize this or Bougainville will miss the boat on the independence ready mission.
“Pressure is now on us and I want to appeal to the people of Bougainville to make independence ready mission our priority,” he said.
The Bougainville Leaders Consultation Forum was held at Kuri Resort and is the second forum this year organized by the Department of Bougainville Independence Mission Implementation.
This forum is used to gather views, ideas and comments from Bougainville leaders within the government and across all sectors of the community on the way forward for Bougainville’s political journey towards independence.
The forum today was to inform the leaders of the outcome of the recent joint consultation meeting in Enga and discuss and plan for the next consultation and way forward.
The meeting was chaired by the Attorney General and Minister for Bougainville Independence Mission Implementation Hon Ezekiel Massat, and attended by the Speaker of Parliament Hon Simon Pentanu, Ministers and Members of the Bougainville House of Representatives and leaders from all sectors of the community, including women, youth, ex-combatants, churches and prominent leaders.
” The aim of highlighting here important aspects of the ABG’s commitment to and plans for achieving independence is not to raise questions about how realistic they are being, but rather to indicate the depth of commitment evident in the ABG position and its related post-referendum initiatives.
It is clearly going to be difficult for PNG to persuade the Bougainville leaders to accept anything short of full independence.
Neighbouring countries need to be aware of the direction that the consultations are taking, and the difficulties likely to arise in reaching compromises in the initial consultation process, and perhaps beyond.”
Setting goals for independence by 2025, UN membership and a sustainable economy signal Bougainville’s resolve.
The second constitutionally mandated post-referendum consultations between Papua New Guinea and Bougainville leaders about independence for Bougainville are being planned for late June 2021.
Bougainville President Ishmael Toroama stated a goal of independence and full United Nations membership by the end of 2025 at the first consultation meeting, chaired by the UN, on 18–19 May.
Together with significant initiatives taken by the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) since elections last year, the statement of these goals signals a degree of commitment to independence that not so far fully understood outside Bougainville.
The PNG/ABG consultations are required following the referendum on Bougainville independence held late in 2019. There was a 97.7 per cent vote for independence, based on an 87 per cent turnout of enrolled voters, in turn based on a remarkably accurate roll. The referendum was adjudged “credible, free and fair” and “transparent and inclusive” by multiple independent international and national observers.
Unlike other conflicts resolved by agreements requiring a referendum on independence following a period of autonomy (notably Southern Sudan and New Caledonia), the Bougainville referendum outcome is not binding on PNG.
Rather the Bougainville Peace Agreement and the PNG constitution leave the referendum outcome to be dealt with by three possible processes: first, PNG and ABG consultation; second, subject to consultation outcomes, tabling of the referendum results in the PNG Parliament for “ratification”, involving “final decision-making authority” of the parliament; third any “differences” being resolved per the “dispute resolution procedure” provided for in the PNG Constitution.
The first consultation was held almost 18 months after the referendum, much to the frustration of many Bougainvilleans. Reasons for delay in the first half of 2020 included ABG constitutional amendment processes and a PNG Supreme Court challenge (both unsuccessful) directed to giving then sitting ABG president John Momis a third term in office.
Subsequently Covid-19, ABG general elections, and a late-2020 PNG political crisis were factors. But in addition, there was a lack of PNG focus and preparedness.
During the two day consultation, ABG President, Ishmael Toroama tabled a short “timeline” of main steps towards achieving independence in 2025.
It included the end of 2022 for achieving not only transfer of all powers as yet to be transferred to the ABG from PNG under the autonomy arrangements, but also for achieving “self-government” for Bougainville.
Self-government would involve establishing a “constituent assembly”, which by the end of 2024 would present “feedback on the draft Independent Bougainville Constitution”. The timeline steps were intended to set the agenda for the second consultation meeting.
PNG’s Prime Minister James Marape did not reject Bougainville’s independence demand outright.
He expressed concerns, however, both that Bougainville independence could provide a precedent for other parts of PNG to secede, leading to the dissolution of PNG and about Bougainville’s capacity to manage independence.
All Bougainville public service departments are being challenged to become independence-ready.
Perhaps the most significant initiative illustrating the extent and depth of commitment to the goal of early independence is the ABG’s multi-faceted “independence-ready” program.
Launched by a late 2020 resolution of the ABG House of Representatives, the program was inspired by the highly successful 2016 to 2019 ABG constituency-based “referendum-ready” program, which made significant contributions to local-level referendum-awareness.
The independence-ready program has a similar constituency-based focus, involving locally focused independence awareness and encouragement of behaviour change in all 33 single member ABG constituencies, as well as the three “regional” constituencies, each represented by one woman and one “former combatant” and has so far been launched in 23 of the single member constituencies.
A major independence awareness focus involves the related issues of economic development and generating the sustainable Bougainville government revenue needed to support independence.
The ABG accepts the conclusions of research undertaken for the PNG National Research Institute since 2018 by economist, Satish Chand, and others, indicating that an independent Bougainville is likely to need a budget two to three times the current ABG budget. The 2020 ABG budget was about K440 million (K151 million recurrent and K242 million capital expenditure).
“Internal” revenue sources in 2020 (some under PNG control but nevertheless derived locally, such as goods and service tax and tuna licence revenues) were estimated at K30 million, about 16 per cent of the total budget.
The independence-ready program responds to the internal revenue deficit through awareness efforts encouraging all Bougainvilleans, including resource owners, to engage in income-earning activities (wage employment, cash crop production, or establishing businesses) with a view to contributing to economic growth, and also encouraging people to be tax payers, contributing to the proposed independent government’s revenue base.
Bougainville is also exploring what it should receive from PNG’s current share of revenue from a regionally administered Pacific tuna fishing licence scheme for fishing in Bougainville-associated waters, which Chand estimates “could range from K30 million to K130 million per year”.
The President also talks of proposed new ABG supported business ventures, part funded by the ABG (US$19 million) and investors (US$100 million), creating 2,000 new jobs.
All Bougainville public service departments are being challenged to become independence-ready by moving promptly to develop ABG legislation to transfer as yet untransferred powers available to the ABG under the autonomy arrangements.
The constitutional transfer process has been simplified by the ABG-initiated Sharp Agreement signed by both governments a few days before the first consultation meeting. The ABG sees this simplified transfer process as contributing to the independence-ready process.
Finally, recognising the difficulties likely to be involved in gaining international community recognition as a new state and gain UN membership, the ABG cabinet has recently established a Ministerial Committee on International Relations that will be “cultivating international support” for Bougainville independence.
The aim of highlighting here important aspects of the ABG’s commitment to and plans for achieving independence is not to raise questions about how realistic they are being, but rather to indicate the depth of commitment evident in the ABG position and its related post-referendum initiatives.
It is clearly going to be difficult for PNG to persuade the Bougainville leaders to accept anything short of full independence.
Neighbouring countries need to be aware of the direction that the consultations are taking, and the difficulties likely to arise in reaching compromises in the initial consultation process, and perhaps beyond.
Mr Speaker, Honorable members of Parliament, much has transpired since the formation of my Government and I am happy to brief this House on some of these achievements in the 10 months that we have been in government.
Mr Speaker, I will start by making a few statements about the important work on “Independence Readiness”.
Mr Speaker, as all members know, we came into this house on the back of the 97.7 percent Referendum Vote for independence. And as a deliberate intent, one of the key strategies that ABG has embarked on, is the Independence Readiness program which comprises of three Prongs.
We are all currently actively engaged in the “Internal Prong” of getting all our communities ready for independence. Last week, we had the opportunity to engage with the Ramu and Lato constituencies of South Bougainville. Last month we met with the Halia and Nissan Constituencies. And everywhere we travel, we are met with high enthusiasm and spirit.
Mr Speaker, all members must familiarize yourselves with the program and the key messages, go out and make communities independence ready. The length and breadth of Bougainville must show a united stand to the rest of the world.
Mr Speaker, with regards to the International prong, BEC had recently approved a policy paper on cultivating international support under the leadership of the Minister for the Dept of Bougainville Independence Mission Implementation.
Mr. Speaker, under the National Prong, my Government and the Leaders of Bougainville, continue to consult with the PNG Government on the Referendum Result. We are on very cordial terms with the PNG Government with much good will and understandings on both sides as we journey towards our destiny.
Mr Speaker, Honorable Members, as you are all aware, at the Kokopo Consultations, I presented the Bougainville position based on the Oasis Resolution. Both parties signed a Joint statement agreeing to work on:
Defining the meaning and process of Ratification
The constitutional issues relating to the Referendum results and the tabling of the consultation outcomes in the National Parliament
Developing a Joint Roadmap on the Post Referendum Consultations
And to fully implementing the Sharp Agreement
Mr Speaker, the Bougainville Executive Council has recently approved a paper on the International Prong aimed at cultivating friendly relations in the pursuit of our course but through currently existing arrangements under PNG. There are a number of aspects to international relations such as political, social, cultural, economic and trade. We will have a bit more understanding on how these aspects will be managed within ABG in due course.
Mr Speaker, One final note on independence readiness is that “we, as leaders and as public servants, are the public face of Bougainville” and we must maintain ethical standards of behavior at all times. The kind of behaviors reported recently in the media should not happen again.
As your President, who is directly mandated into this chair by the people, I want all structures and systems of government, including all Committees of this House, to all be aligned and working towards our common goals and not be distracted by agendas outside of this Parliament.
Mr Speaker, at this juncture, let me announce and congratulate the new Minister for Public Service, the Member for Baba, the Honorable Emmanuel Kaetavara. Yours is a key Ministry that provides structural leadership and legislative oversight for the Human resources in the delivery of services and development. The challenge of your Dept is to reinvent itself and align its relevance in an evolving Presidential system of Government.
May I also thank the former Minister and Member for Lato for his services in the 9 months of his appointment. You will continue to serve the people of Bougainville through your Constituency and through this House.
Mr Speaker, I now want to highlight key achievements by my Government since our formation.
Mr Speaker, the Political Control agenda has already been noted above under the Independence Ready Program. I am pleased with its progress and much credit must go to the Minister responsible and to BIMAT. BIMAT is an example of thinking outside the box.
Mr Speaker, another achievement is the signing of the Joint Communique, which basically recognizes the historical journey undertake by the two governments under the Bougainville Peace Agreement and commits the two governments to jointly consult on the Referendum results for independence.
Mr Speaker, the Sharp Agreement, which was signed on the 13th of May, does away with the Constitutional requirements under section 295 (a) and (b) regarding the transfer of powers and functions under the Autonomous arrangements. This paves the way for the consultations to focus on the political agenda while the Administration deals with the implementation of the remaining powers and functions. This is a challenge in itself and I urge the administration to rise up to the task.
The Bougainville Position tabled at the Kokopo Consultation presents a detailed five-year timeline from 2021 to 2025. Each year comprises a number of key Milestones to be achieved with independence fully declared during 2025 (and perhaps set 1st September 2025 as the date for declaration). The Kokopo Resolutions now provide the strategy for both parties to consult over the Bougainville position through the coming consultations. This will need careful analysis and planning going forward.
Mr Speaker, in this regard, my Government has established two secretariats specifically to attend to the intellectual and strategic needs of our political journey. The Bougainville Independence Mission Advisory Team (BIMAT) under the Dept of Independence Mission Implementation is providing the intellectual grunt in our political engagement with PNG.
The other Secretariat established is the Bougainville Strategic Research Planning & Monitoring Secretariat (BSRPMS) which will take lead on the higher level Long -Term Vision and Development Strategies and the review and restructuring of Government in line with emerging scenarios.
Mr Speaker, it is very pleasing to note the capabilities and institutional memories housed in both Secretariats, which complement the Public Service and I ask the rest of the administration (especially the Finance Dept) to accord timely support to these two bodies.
Let me now make a few statements about the Economic Control Pillar – State Owned Enterprises and Internal Revenue
Mr Speaker, since the formation of the post crisis Bougainville Government, a total of 20 Government owned Business Enterprises have been set up. As of this year, only 4 of these businesses are operating while 16 have closed. Out of the four that are still operating, only two are contributing revenue to ABG. This is a failure rate of 80% and is a serious indictment on the performance of past governments.
There are a lot of lessons to be learnt going forward in how we plan, manage and conduct business. We currently only generate 24% internally of the revenue needed to run government and to deliver services and development.
Mr Speaker, in order to avoid the problem of poor business performance in the future, my Government is working on setting up Business management systems that will uphold good management principles against the pilfering of funds in the past.
My government will also soon announce new business ventures to the value of US$19m (about K68m) and announce investments totaling US$100m (K400m) by early 2021 creating employment of about 2,000 jobs to the economy.
Mr Speaker, with regards to Panguna, the Veterans Association of Panguna, under the Leadership of the Vice President is preparing the ground work for the removal of the remaining bones in and around Panguna. This will clear the way for any talks relating to the possible reopening of the mine.
An overall Economic Development Strategy is being formulated for presentation at the Economic Summit which is now postponed to November this year.
Mr. Speaker, whilst I am on the subject of Government revenue, I am happy to mention to this sitting, that the PNG Government has released K40m to ABG as first instalment of the K100m per year promised by Prime Minister Hon James Marape at the February JSB in Arawa.
Mr Speaker, for the information of members, funds owed to Bougainville by PNG Government include:
The K1billion over a ten-year period (K100m per year)
The PIP K100m per year under BPA section 50
The RDG outstanding grants of K624m up to 2019
The K81m currently outstanding since 2018
Our officers need to engage constantly with Waigani to draw this money down.
Mr Speaker, on Taxation matters, the Arawa JSB, also agreed on a new Taxation arrangement for ABG. The Bougainville Peace Agreement stipulates for 70 percent of Taxes collected from business conducted in Bougainville to be held in Trust by the PNG Government and 30 percent to be allocated to Bougainville annually. The February JSB agreed with the Prime Minister Hon James Marape, to reverse this situation in Bougainville’s favour by now allocating 70 percent to Bougainville and keeping 30 percent in Trust by PNG IRC. When effected, this will contribute further to increasing our internal revenue.
Mr Speaker, under Law and Order, the Law and Order sector through the Dept of Law and Justice continues to make headway in “institutional strengthening” to better position itself to deliver on its mandate. We have recently witnessed the ground breaking for its new office building in Kubu. It has also recently held consultations with its PNG counterparts to strategize on legislative matters relating to the powers being transferred under the Sharp agreement.
Mr Speaker, on Corruption or perceptions of corruption continues to be a major stumbling block to the government both at the leadership and administrative level. Some of the practices, like officers hiring their own vehicles for project monitoring visits must stop. At the Leadership level, we must focus on legislation and policy making and leave matters of implementation to the appropriate bodies. A key point to highlight here is the ABG owned enterprises with 80% failure rate because of political influence.
Mr. Speaker, I am happy that BSP has recently paid K500,000 to the ABG revenue but this announcement should not shroud the monies previously diverted by the trustees of this shareholding. ABG through the relevant agencies should recover these monies.
The key approach to combatting corruption is to follow proper systems and processes that exist or to create new systems where none exist. There will be many changes as Bougainville transitions from an Autonomous Government to a future sovereign state and there will be times when we have to think “outside the box” to find solutions because the normal way of doing business will not be adequate.
Mr Speaker, however, in saying this, I am not advocating “a free for all situation”. We must still be strategic, coordinated and systematic!! The ABG Administration will still take lead in implementing normal delivery of “services and development” whilst BIMAT will take lead in any forward thinking and implementation on the political consultation front and the Bougainville Strategic Research Planning & Monitoring Secretariat will take lead on the higher level Long -Term Vision and Development Strategies and the review and restructuring of Government in line with emerging scenarios.
Mr Speaker, on the 2022 Budget, the Administration has just concluded the formulation of the 2022 Budget at its workshop in Arawa. This will be the first budget that will reflect the Six Strategic Priorities under my Government. As noted elsewhere in this speech, my Government has already progressed most of my Governments priorities except for the Long-term Vision and Development Strategy and Mobilizing Civil Society and the Private Sector.
Plans are underway for an extensive Bougainville wide consultation process, beginning in July, at the districts & communities regarding the Bougainville Long term Vision and Development Strategy. It is my intention to present the final product to Parliament in the first quarter of 2022.
Mr Speaker, the Long-term Vision and Strategic Plan will be the Blue Print providing the Framework for subsequent Medium and Short-Term Development Planning by the Administration under subsequent governments. It will also provide the framework for mobilizing the Private Sector and Civil Society.
My Government, intends to conduct a comprehensive “resource mapping”, using the latest modern technology, of all our resources (natural or man-made) on which the detailed Long-Term Plan will be based. A knowledge of the resource inventory and its monetary value will be fundamental to the economic growth of an independent sovereign Bougainville. We will not be fooled by any external interests once we complete this exercise.
Mr Speaker, the concept of Regional Development Authorities (RDA) was also legitimized at the recent Budget Planning meeting in Arawa. It must have the capacity and ability to deliver on its mandate and should not simply be another government office that will chew up scare resources.
Mr Speaker, the challenges are many and obvious as we transit into a future political status. As we have experienced so far, the consultation timeline and process are going to be quite intensive. Both the leaders and public servants will need to balance the domestic responsibilities of providing governance, services delivery and development with that of participating in the political agenda. Ministers and Heads of Departments should pay particular attention to this challenge.
Mr Speaker, another challenge is “funding”. Both Bougainville and PNG are being assisted in the consultations by the donor community through the United Nations. We will need to manage expectations of our various stakeholder groups in how we all participate in the consultation process through fair representation whilst travelling on a crowded journey. It will not be possible to take large delegations to all consultations.
Mr Speaker, there are many other challenges which I am sure all levels of Bougainville society are well aware off and are taking appropriate remedial measures.
Mr Speaker, the journey ahead is not going to be easy on all fronts as we play catch-up on missed opportunities over the last 15 years. All we ask for from all our citizens, through your respective leadership positions, is their patience and support.
“ Any form of self-determination will require some new institutions for Bougainville and some changes to existing ones, all of which will need a foundation in Bougainville’s Constitution. Exactly what changes are made, how they are made, and the future relationship between the Constitutions of Bougainville and PNG will depend in part on the form of self-determination.
If Bougainville achieved self-determination outside PNG, with no formal relationship with PNG other than as a close neighbour, this would be reflected in the terms of the Constitution, the range of matters for which it provides, and the mechanisms that it establishes for political and legal accountability.
If Bougainville achieved self-determination in a form of free association with PNG, this would be likely reflected in the Constitutions of both PNG and Bougainville, although the Constitutions need not otherwise be dependent on each other.
If Bougainville achieved self-determination on a basis that left it formally within PNG, significant constitutional changes still would be needed. In these circumstances, however, there would be a relationship of some kind between the two Constitutions, although it may not be the same as exists at present.
On any of these scenarios for constitutional change, there is a further question for decision about whether Bougainville should amend the existing Constitution or make a new one. In principle, either is possible and there are advantages and disadvantages to both.
Abridged from a National Research Institute research report ( Reseach Report 8: Institution Building in Post-Referendum Bougainville) under its Referendum Research Project. This was released along with Research Report 9: Increasing Revenues for the Bougainville Government.
What needs to be done on Bougainville in the wake of the 2019 referendum.
By ANNA DZIEDZIC and CHERYL SAUNDERS
THERE will be four key questions before decision-makers in the post-referendum consultations. While the primary focus of the consultations will be the future relationship between Bougainville and PNG, the other questions are necessarily linked to this relationship.
The questions are identified separately below, to ensure that each is actively considered, in the interests of workable and lasting outcomes.
The questions are:
What should be the future relationship between Bougainville and PNG, following the referendum?
What changes are necessary to achieve that relationship, in both PNG and Bougainville, in terms of governing authority and the way in which authority is exercised?
How should these changes be made, to ensure that they work as effectively as possible from the standpoint of both Bougainville and PNG?
Over what time frame should change occur and in what order of priority?
The future relationship between Bougainville and PNG might take different forms, with multiple different features, all of which are consistent with self-determination.
For the purposes of this report, as an aid to understanding the options, the possibilities are grouped into three broad categories.
We note, however, that there may be variations within each.
These categories are: Self-determination for Bougainville outside PNG, as a formally sovereign state; Self-determination outside PNG, but in a form of free association with it; Self-determination in a form that leaves Bougainville formally part of PNG.
Three influential factors
There are at least three contextual factors that are relevant to the form and outcomes of the consultations.
One is the nature of the existing relationship between PNG and Bougainville. These two territories have been connected for the purposes of governance for over 100 years. The legacies of this connection include both long collaboration and significant conflict (Regan & Griffin, 2015).
Both legacies are evident in the considerable achievements of the BPA, which brought a bitter conflict to a close in a way that has proved both manageable and lasting. Bougainville’s peace process provides a model from which others might learn.
Nevertheless, from the standpoint of the consultations, these legacies tend to pull in opposite directions. Complicating resolution further, a century of governance of PNG and Bougainville as a single entity also has encouraged the intermixture of peoples and the interdependence of economies.
Self-determination for Bougainville will require these to be disentangled to some degree, whatever form it takes. On the other hand, geography, shared history and the realities of globalisation suggest that a close relationship of some kind will continue.
A second contextual factor that demands consideration is Bougainville’s capability, now and into the future. Capability should be understood for this purpose as a combination of the knowledge, skills and integrity needed to develop policies, manage programs and run institutions in ways that work for the people of Bougainville and for the polity as a whole. Capability, including ways in which it might be developed, is relevant to all the key questions for decision in the course of the consultations.
Capability is an issue that arises when any political community acquires major new responsibilities for which it has final authority.
In one sense, Bougainville has an advantage in this regard over many other newly empowered political communities, thanks to the experience of nearly two decades of autonomy since the signing of the BPA. Capability is nevertheless a major issue for Bougainville, in ways that are documented in a range of relatively recent reports and reviews (Government of Papua New Guinea and Autonomous Bougainville Government Joint Supervisory Body, 2018; Government of Papua New Guinea and Autonomous Bougainville Government Joint Supervisory Body, 2013; McKenna, 2019; Nisira, 2017; Peake, 2019).
Bougainville and PNG have distinctive features and a distinctive history that must guide both the decisions that are made in the course of the consultations and the ways in which they are put into effect.
Properly used, however, the experiences of other countries can be a valuable source from which insights for the consultations between governments can be drawn.
The companion report, Increasing Revenues for the Bougainville Government (Chand et al., 2020), identifies 57 states that, like Bougainville, have small island territories, in order to examine their relevance as comparators for the purposes of Bougainville’s own economic and fiscal futures.
From this range, the report ultimately identifies 18 such states that are broadly comparable to Bougainville in terms of size and economic opportunity (Chand et al., 2020).This section of this report identifies three ways in particular in which comparative experience might be useful for the institutional and related issues covered by this report.First, the experiences of other countries may provide useful insight into each of the broad options for the relationship between Bougainville and PNG.
Some examples are given below.
Timor Leste and South Sudan are both states that have separated from larger states in relatively recent times and have achieved self-determination as independent states in their own right.44 Timor Leste became an independent state in 2002 and South Sudan in 2011.
Cook Islands, Niue, the Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Palau are examples of states that are not part of a larger state but operate in ‘free association’ with one.5• Greenland is formally part of the Kingdom of Denmark, but it enjoys self-government on a basis that includes a right to secede and so offers an example of self-determination while formally remaining part of a larger state (Ackrén, 2017).
The experiences of these and other states show how each of the broad options for self-determination works, as a basis for determining their suitability for Bougainville.
Second, polities that are broadly similar to Bougainville in terms of geographic and population size, stage of development, and perhaps culture, offer insights into such matters as the range of institutions that Bougainville might need; the challenges of operating them; and the extent to which governance can be enhanced by local cultural practice.
A subset of the states identified in the report Increasing Revenues (Chand et al., 2021) is most likely to be relevant for these purposes. States that might offer particular insights into the design and operation of institutions in Bougainville include Fiji, Kiribati, the Federated States of Micronesia, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Tonga and Vanuatu.
While each of these polities is different to Bougainville in many respects, all are island states, all are relatively small in global terms, and all are in the same region of the world, with similar neighbours, some shared historical experiences, significant distinctive cultures and broadly similar aspirations.
Third, comparative experience can be useful also to demonstrate how smaller states, with limited resources, share institutions of various kinds, including by using institutions of others. Examples that will be given in the course of this report include currency, courts and diplomatic representation.
There is no shortage of public institutions that might be organised in this way, however, in the short term or even indefinitely. These practices are familiar in smaller states throughout the world, but the same range of Pacific states might be most useful comparators for Bougainville’s purposes.
It is not practicable in this report to canvass comparative experiences in any depth. Once the consultations get underway and the direction of the consultations becomes clear, more specific questions can be formulated. There may be value in organising a forum of representatives of selected states to provide detailed information on institutions and their operation in practice.
Creating a polity to realise self-determination requires an effective political community, in addition to the institutions and other trappings of statehood (Bogdandy et al., 2005). An effective political community requires cohesion between peoples, trust in public institutions and a shared commitment to the polity.
In an effective political community, disagreement is resolved through processes provided by or under the auspices of the state, potentially including customary law and practice. Members of a political community will not always be pleased by an election outcome, a new law or policy, or a decision of a court or other arbiter. Where a political community is working well, however, people accept such outcomes as part of a system to which they belong and on which they are prepared to rely, even while working to change decisions for the future. Bougainville already has a political community; however, greater demands will be placed on it by self-determination as Bougainville becomes increasingly self-reliant.
Although institutions based on western constitutional models have been established, customary institutions, such as councils of elders and chiefs, customary law, and customary methods of decision making and dispute resolution are recognised in Bougainville’s constitution and laws. Customary institutions have a high degree of legitimacy and operate alongside state institutions in what has been described as an example of successful ‘hybrid’ state building (Boege et al., 2008).
Customary institutions and processes have played a crucial role during the period of autonomy under the BPA. Bougainville can continue to draw on these institutions to develop a political community that suits its new circumstances and needs.
But there are challenges in building political community in Bougainville as well. Regionalism and factionalism are as present in Bougainville as elsewhere (Bougainville News, 2019).
The animosities of the civil war are not entirely overcome and continue to affect the cohesion of local communities (Autonomous Bougainville Government Department of Peace and Conciliation Resources, 2019).
Divisions could be exacerbated by future initiatives including, most obviously, reopening the Panguna mine. The struggle for self-determination has been a catalyst for unity of purpose within Bougainville that could be weakened once that struggle is over. Governance in Bougainville in conditions of self-determination is certain to be difficult, has the potential to give rise to dissatisfaction among sections of the people, and could undermine the solidarity on which political community depends.
Citizenship and passports
Any political community has rules or practices that identify its members. At present, Bougainville’s Constitution recognises the legal status of a ‘Bougainvillean’. Section 7 of the Constitution sets out the way in which Bougainvillean status is acquired. Section 8 identifies key rights held by Bougainvilleans to own customary land and to stand for election. Section 9 sets out the obligations of a Bougainvillean.
If Bougainville were to become a polity outside PNG, it would be necessary to create a status of Bougainville citizen and to provide for a system of Bougainville passports. By contrast, if Bougainville were to achieve a form of self-determination in free association with PNG, it could have its own citizenship and issue its own passports, but it need not do so.
So, for example, Niue, which has a form of free association with New Zealand, relies on New Zealand citizenship and accepts that its people use New Zealand passports, as convenient but not necessary attributes of free association (Angelo, 2009).
Ideas about membership and belonging are not exclusive to independent countries, however.
They also apply in distinct political communities within countries.
Some of these use the terminology of ‘citizenship’ to describe the status of belonging. In these cases, people may have multiple citizenships within the same country, at different levels of government, each of which is meaningful and valued in its own way.
A similar idea of multiple citizenships within the same polity can be found in some supra-national arrangements. For example, someone who lives in France may be a citizen of both France and the European Union.
It follows that even if Bougainville were to achieve self-determination in a form that meant it formally remained part of PNG, a status of Bougainville citizen could be created; although, in this case, passports would continue to be issued by PNG.
If a new status of citizen of Bougainville were created, it would be necessary to decide who is entitled to it. A broadly similar issue was faced in many Pacific states as they obtained independence from colonial rule.
One possibility would be to define citizenship of Bougainville by reference to the previous status of belonging, as a ‘Bougainvillean’. With this approach, anyone who meets the definition of ‘Bougainvillean’ in the current constitution could automatically become a citizen of Bougainville on a specified date.
The existing criteria would prescribe the bases on which citizenship of Bougainville might be acquired in the future. If this approach were adopted, consideration should be given to whether place of birth or other connection with the territory of Bougainville should be added to the criteria for Bougainville citizenship.
Under the current provisions, the requirement for Bougainvilleans to be citizens of PNG before exercising political rights ensures a territorial connection, which would be lost if the two citizenships are separated from each other. An alternative would be to define citizenship of Bougainville by reference to the standard criteria of place of birth and descent that are used in a variety of combinations in most countries in the world. This approach was taken by PNG on independence in 1975.
PNG conferred automatic citizenship at the date of independence on any person born in PNG who had two grandparents born in PNG or in specified neighbouring islands.
Under current PNG law, a person acquires PNG citizenship if he or she is born in PNG and has at least one parent who is a PNG citizen; is born outside of PNG but has at least one citizen parent and is registered; or has had some connection to the people and territory of PNG before naturalisation.8 Bougainville could develop citizenship requirements of its own, broadly along these lines, possibly accepting that birth in PNG and the ‘adjacent area’ as well as in Bougainville is acceptable for the purpose.
With either approach, there are likely to be cases where a person’s citizenship status is unclear. To accommodate these cases, other states in the Pacific also have set out a process for certain classes of people to register or to apply for citizenship (Dziedzic, 2020). Flexibility of some kind would be useful for prescribing the citizenship requirements for Bougainville.
Every polity uses symbols to reinforce its sense of political community and for use on official occasions. Symbols usually reflect the polity’s sense of its own identity, in terms of its people and their culture, its territory, its history and its place in the world. Bougainville already has a distinctive identity, which is the product of its story so far.
A move to self-determination, whatever form it takes, will change Bougainville’s identity in some ways while leaving it unaltered in others.
There is no exhaustive list of the symbols that a polity may have for these purposes. Bougainville already has many of the usual symbols: a flag, emblem, motto and anthem. Bougainville also celebrates commemorative days, including Autonomous Bougainville Government Foundation Day and Peace Agreement Commemoration Day.
In connection with a move to self-determination, consideration might be given to whether these symbols adequately reflect the identity that Bougainville wishes to project, internally and externally. The answer could depend on the chosen form of self-determination. For example, the BPA and PNG Constitution presently require that official markings of the Bougainville Police and Bougainville Correctional Service include the national PNG emblem.
Changes in the relationship between PNG and Bougainville in consequence of self-determination may affect this practice and certainly would do so if Bougainville achieved self-determination outside PNG, whether as an independent state or in a form of free association.
Self-determination may have other implications for Bougainville’s identity as well, which could be reflected in the symbols used by Bougainville and the circumstances in which they are used.
Self-determination may ultimately lead to the creation of new symbols. A Bougainville system of honours or awards is a possible example.
In addition, self-determination may bring other changes to Bougainville that take on a symbolic character. To take one example: currency, which is considered further below in Part 5.2, can have a symbolic as well as practical function. As Part 5.2 explains, countries do not need to have their own currency; this is a choice for each to make. Some countries with their own currency also use it as a symbol.
Whatever the outcome of the consultations between the two governments, some changes to the Constitution of Bougainville are needed. The existing Constitution was made within parameters agreed in the BPA and reflected in the Constitution of PNG. It is expressly transitional, bridging the period of autonomy following the BPA and a decision on Bougainville’s future political status.
Both the Constitution itself and the process of making or changing it are relevant to self-determination for Bougainville.
A new or renewed constitution would mark the beginning of a new collective identity for Bougainville, symbolising the unity of the people and signifying Bougainville’s new status to the rest of the world (Haysom, 2005).
The Constitution also has practical significance for institution building, providing the basic framework for institutions of government and setting out their powers and functions.
” We must be masters of our destiny, and we can only do this by putting our own “software”, into the structures and institutions we are going to build.
Yes, we can borrow ideas from outside, but they must be adapted and adjusted to fit our way of thinking. It is only through our own “intellectual control”, that we can chart our own pathway and create our own identity, and a place in the global society – the Asian Countries have proven this in no uncertain terms.
To this extent, Bougainville must establish, a high powered Planning Secretariat that will help us dream big into the future, innovate and reach new heights.
We must make use of the enormous talent of educated Bougainvilleans outside of Bougainville in this endeavor.”
President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Hon. Ishmael Toroama, outlined his six-point strategy under his leadership, in his maiden speech delivered at the Inauguration Ceremony of the Fourth Bougainville House of Representatives .
1. Political control of our Destiny
2. Economic Growth and Control
3. Administrative Control
4. Mobilizing Private Sector and Civil Society
5. Long term Vision and Planning
6. International Relations
Full Transcript below
The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, the Honorable James Marape; the outgoing President of Bougainville Honorable Chief Dr John Momis, Ministers of the PNG Parliament present here today, Ministers and Members of the Bougainville Parliament; Heads of Foreign Missions represented here today, the Speaker of the Bougainville Parliament, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my utmost pleasure to be presenting my Maiden Parliamentary Speech in front of you all.
Mr Speaker, I am humbled and honored to be speaking to you, as your new President for the next five years. This is the highest position on our land, and I intend to serve the office with faithfulness and diligence.
Mr Speaker, we are entering a very important five years, as the people have given us, the enormous responsibility of securing the 98% vote. I am fully aware of this responsibility, as I now take the frontline in the political arena.
Mr Speaker, we enter an exciting parliament, as about 70% are new members entering for the first time, to shoulder the long and old agenda. It is also an interesting Parliament, because three pairs of family relations have made it into the house – a husband and wife; a father and daughter; and a mother and son. This must be a record in the democratic world. I look forward to their contributions, without fear or favor.
Mr Speaker and members of this house, before I go any further, let me first pay homage to the 20,000 lives, who died during our struggle for freedom. Many died not in combat but from a lack of access to services. My victory is in their honor. May those of us still alive, continue the journey to the promise land so that their sacrifice will not be in vain.
Mr Speaker, may I thank the people of Bougainville, both inside and outside of Bougainville, for having trust and confidence in me, and giving me the mandate to be your President. You had the difficult task of choosing me, from amongst the 25 candidates, all of whom are persons of high standing. Your choice of me as your President, proves that wisdom, knowledge and experience from the “University of Life”, still has a place in our Bougainville society.
Mr Speaker and Members of this Parliament, what is my key agenda as your new President? As all of my voters know, I campaigned on a platform of three core issues which are Independence; Corruption and Law & Order.
As stated earlier, Independence has been our dream since the days of our forefathers. We have fought for it, and won the war, but we have not yet won the battle! We have now translated it into a number (the 98% Vote), without any significant minority throughout Bougainville. Let there be no doubt, about the legality and validity of the Referendum and the results, as the Referendum is captured in the Organic Law on Peacebuilding in Bougainville and Referendum, and inserted into the PNG Constitution.
Mr Speaker, I thank the outgoing President Hon. Chief Dr John Momis, the outgoing Minister for Referendum, Mr Punghau, and the United Nations, for the tremendous work they have done in delivering a successful Referendum, and setting an international benchmark, as far as referendum votes are concerned. My Government will ensure that both Hon Chief John Momis and Mr Punghau continue to guide and participate, in the consultation and dialogue process with the PNG Government.
Mr Speaker, the Joint Consultative Framework has already been agreed to by the March JSB. My government’s priority is to continue the preparations and conduct of consultation and dialogue with the Government of PNG. The Bougainville Peace Agreement, the PNG Constitution, International Treaties and Conventions will show us the way in our journey to our destiny. We must remain steadfast and continue to consult with our people, inside Bougainville, and outside of the islands, because this has been our collective past, and must also be our collective future.
Mr Speaker, my second campaign pillar was Corruption. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 15:33 “Do not be deceived as bad company ruins morals” and 2 Peter: 1-9 says “They promised them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved”.
These two versus are very clear, if we want freedom, we must not keep bad company. We must get rid of any individuals, systems or institutions that are practicing corrupt behaviors. Corruption, whether it is true or a mere speculation, is damaging and we leaders must avoid putting ourselves in questionable situations.
My government intends to keep a clear separation, between decision making (policy or law) and implementation. Leaders should not make decisions, and then take lead in implementing the same decisions. Leaders may go out and monitor, to ensure laws or policies are implemented as planned.
Mr Speaker, I am aware of the weaknesses in the current Financial Management System as it has too many leaks. We must fix the leaks going forward. “A house that is built on sand, will easily get blown away by the wind” (Mathew 7: 26). So, let us now start building our Independence journey on solid rock!!
Mr Speaker, Members of the House and my people of Bougainville, the other key agenda that I campaigned on and elected is Law and Order. This is essential if Bougainville is to prosper, socially and economically, beyond the Ratification and the securing of Independence. Our dream of being masters of our destiny, will amount to nothing if we cannot behave in civil ways. We have signed the Peace Agreement, we have contained weapons, we have reconciled amongst ourselves as well as with PNG, and above all, we have conducted a highly successful referendum. There is now no more reason, for anyone to be carrying arms or causing violence or behaving in unruly manners.
To those groups that are still not actively participating in our journey, I urge you to join me as your President, with open arms and walk this journey together. I will be meeting with the law and order agencies here in Bougainville, to develop ways of combating increasing law and order issues especially drugs, homebrew, gender and family violence, stealing of cars and so on. In the medium to long term, we must have broader economic interventions that can keep the young people usefully employed.
Mr Speaker, “the very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision for the people. You can’t beat the garamut for nothing.”
The above three campaign agendas will be part of a much bigger vision, which the people of Bougainville expressed in the form of the Bougainville Crisis 31 years ago. The Crisis was a revolution in every way, politically; economically; and development wise. It developed all systems and provided a golden opportunity to create a new Bougainville. There were many new innovations at that time such as hydropower; coconut oil, new farming systems and even new architecture of village houses. The crisis liberated the thinking of Bougainvilleans.
Mr Speaker, however, in restoring Bougainville to normalcy, we have simply re-established the old system under new labels such as Interim Authority, the People’s Congress, and the Autonomous Government and Public Service. We have not encouraged, the innovative ability of our people, so evident during the Crisis years. The end result is that Bougainvilleans, are again in danger of becoming by-standers on their own land.
I intend to re-orientate some of the Technical Services functions so that they are better positioned to respond to the needs of the village people instead of simply being a manager of large tenders and contracts.
Mr Speaker, we must be masters of our destiny, and we can only do this by putting our own “software”, into the structures and institutions we are going to build. Yes, we can borrow ideas from outside, but they must be adapted and adjusted to fit our way of thinking. It is only through our own “intellectual control”, that we can chart our own pathway and create our own identity, and a place in the global society – the Asian Countries have proven this in no uncertain terms. To this extent, Bougainville must establish, a high powered Planning Secretariat that will help us dream big into the future, innovate and reach new heights. We must make use of the enormous talent of educated Bougainvilleans outside of Bougainville in this endeavor.
Mr Speaker and Members of this new Parliament, the winds of change have arrived! “Change will not come if we wait for other persons or some other time. We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the change that we seek!” To quote President Obama.
How do we build a new society? Mr Speaker, we must build trust and confidence in the people through the strategies:
Strategy Number 1 is Political control of our Destiny – we can only exercise political control through independence – we must pursue Independence by all peaceful means. It may happen in one year, or it might take a few more years, but we must never lose focus however long it may take. My people of Bougainville, you have endured this far and your continued patience is all I ask for of you.
Mr Speaker, in the formation of the new government, we must also give confidence and trust to our people. People have desired change as expressed in the high number of new members in this Parliament. This change will be the theme of my government. They may be small but significant changes, in the way Government operates, for example, getting each department to manage their own funds, or they may be big infrastructural investments. However, while we are pursuing change, we must also maintain balance between old and new, because the new leaders need to be mentored by the experienced leaders in the ways of running a government.
Mr Speaker, still under political control, maintaining constant Communication with our people, is essential to their engagement. People must know and understand what the government is doing, in order for the people, to give us their support and participate fully. My government will look at ways of communicating better with our people.
Mr Speaker, Strategy Number 2 is Economic Growth and Control – political control will not lead to much improvement in our livelihood, if we are by-standers in the economy. After 45 years of independence, PNG, through the leadership of Prime Minister Honorable James Marape, is taking PNG back. We in Bougainville have a golden opportunity to get it right at this point of our political journey.
Mr Speaker, under my government, we will have specific targeted plan for growing our economy. Panguna Mine will be a key target but we will not put all our eggs in one basket. My government has a number of specific large to medium project ideas in mining, agriculture, fisheries and tourism that will create employment and generate revenue for Bougainville.
We welcome foreign investment, because without outside funding and technologies, we may not be able to exploit our natural resources. But we expect a fair share of return and participation, in the form of shareholding or equity in large scale projects. The medium to small enterprise sector must be controlled by our people.
Mr Speaker, it is time we change the shanty-town business image our main towns. We must also create an equal opportunity environment for businesses, so that economic benefits are spread throughout a larger population. In this regard, my government will be looking at relevant policies of making this happen under an overall Economic Development Plan.
Mr Speaker, Strategy Number 3 for building trust and confidence in our people is Administrative Control. We must have the right Administration to facilitate economic growth and be able to translate and implement political directions. The administration must change from being paper pushers to being agents of change. Too often the public servants are accused of being self-serving, who are more interested in their perks and privileges, or in how much allowance they will get when they go to Port Moresby instead of going to Torokina, Buin or Nissan. Their behavior must change. My government intends to review, restructure and make changes as appropriate and with a view to redirecting resources to the District level.
Mr Speaker, and Prime Minister Hon. James Marape, I understand that the drawdown of powers and functions under section 290 of the PNG Constitution that were made available to Bougainville, have not been fully drawn down yet. This needs to be progressed. As we consult and dialogue with PNG, we will also look at the possibility of getting powers and functions currently with the PNG Government such as:
Section 289 (powers currently vested with PNG Government)
Section 291 (powers relating to Criminal Code)
Section 293 (the exercise of international obligations), and
Section 298 National Government Assets and Lands as far as it related to Bougainville
Mr Speaker and Members of this House, Strategy number 4 is mobilizing Private Sector and Civil Society – 80% of our citizens live in villages where local custom, associations and churches play a far greater influence.
It is impossible for Government to move Bougainville forward by itself. The private sector and civil society organizations be it the church, a farmer’s association, and so on, must be mobilized to play a greater role then at the moment. The business houses for example, apart from paying taxes, can be asked to play a direct role in other ways. This must now change.
Mr Speaker, Strategy Number 5 is long term vision and planning – as the saying goes “planning to fail is planning for failure.” Bougainville must embark on an exercise of long-term planning, beyond the medium-term plans which gather dust from the offices of government. We must plan long term, say 40 years and have political commitment to such planning, so that Bougainville rises from the ashes into a vibrant economy, where the full potential and capacity of our citizens are fully harnessed. Singapore, under the leadership of President Lee Kwan Yew was able to transform Singapore, into the global economic hub it is today, through deliberate and sustained long-term planning since 1954. Conditions in Bougainville are different from Singapore, but there is a lesson in long term planning and commitment to it that we can learn from. Bougainville must have long-term blueprint.
Mr Speaker and Members of the House, Strategy Number 6 is International Relations – our historical friends will continue to be our friends as ours is a long enduring relationship through good and bad times. You have given us trouble but you have also helped us overcome these difficult times, and that is the nature of human spirit, one that is able to recover, forgive and move on. History must be our guiding light in moving forward, so that we do not make the same mistakes of the past. Our doors under my government will be open to the international community, especially to those who want to help us achieve our dreams, but in way that is of mutual benefit to us and to our friends to be.
Mr Speaker and Members of the House and the people of Bougainville, that is my six-point strategy for Bougainville in the next five years, my first 100 day plan will be one that will drive this six-point Strategy. Education and Health will of course continue to be offered as normal services. Any new standards of service delivery must await improvements in the economy. We are only generating about 24% of total budget from within Bougainville. Furthermore, COVID-19 has greatly impacted the global as well as the PNG economy. PNG has recently slashed its budget by K2 billion. So, all of this need to be taken into account as we are planning and implementing the Strategies.
Mr Speaker, much needs to be done, but we must set our house in order before we can embark on these strategies. The following preconditions are necessary:
Setting the right political leadership – the right mix of political leadership is essential to leading Bougainville in the next five years especially for our journey ahead. I will therefore announce a full cabinet, within the 14 days, a team of vibrant leaders who will provide the drive, energy and innovation in moving Bougainville forward.
Mr Speaker, as noted previously, innovative leadership of the Administration is also important. I will review the situation and make changes if necessary.
Mr Speaker, a long term Bougainville Blueprint that captures the entire Bougainville society is essential in guiding our way forward. In this regard, I intend to establish a high-powered Planning Secretariat (a small unit) made up of highly qualified and competent citizens who will report directly to the President and Executive Council so that our people’s political and development aspirations are achieved.
Control over the population and territory is another precondition as already stated under law and order. We must educate the masses, those who have not had the opportunity to realize their potential, not necessarily in the classroom, but in the society, so that they become productive members of society.
Mr Speaker, at this juncture, let me address directly a number of stakeholders that are important to Bougainville:
Firstly, the PNG Government – Mr Speaker, to the PNG Government, you caused us immense pain and suffering, but you have helped us in restoring our lives, and you are helping us to rebuild our government systems and institutions. We have reconciled and buried our differences as true Melanesian people. However, a lot more needs to be done in helping our Bougainville people live a comfortable life. I am aware that Bougainville may not have received its share of funds as agreed in the Bougainville Peace Agreement. I intend to explore this further with the Prime Minister.
Mr Speaker, Bougainville and PNG will also walk the journey ahead side by side as you help Bougainville to reach its destiny, which was sanctioned by the blood of 20,000 lives. The sentiments expressed by National Minister for Bougainville Affairs, Sir Puka Temu, in his recent parliamentary statement, asking PNG Parliamentarians to educate themselves about the history, the culture, the sufferings and the aspirations of Bougainvilleans is the right grounds on which to walk together the journey and set us free.
Mr Speaker, the changing of guards, always comes with uncertainty and trepidation. My government will endeavor to establish and maintain an environment of trust within Bougainville, with PNG and the international community so that we can confidently go about our joint agendas. Diplomacy, respect and our Melanesian values must underpin our joint journey but above all trust and honesty must prevail as we consult and dialogue towards an outcome that reflects the 98% vote.
Mr Speaker, let me now turn to the international community and development partners. The international community especially Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Solomon Island, Fiji, Vanuatu and the United Nations have been of tremendous value to Bougainville in pacifying the conflict and in helping to rebuild Bougainville. Under my leadership, Bougainville will continue to work with you so that we reach new heights in our areas of mutual interest.
The door will be open to any member of the international community in general that is interested in helping Bougainville take its place in the international arena.
Mr Speaker, the government and people of Solomon Island deserve a special mention. You sheltered us during our times of need and you suffered in the course of it. But most importantly, you were the launching pad for the peace process and I as the new president of Bougainville accord you my sincere appreciation and look forward to a continued and renewed relationship.
Mr Speaker, to the people of Bougainville, we have finally given an unshakeable number, to the long-held dream of our forefathers, and our leaders who have gone before us. We owe it to Sir Paul Lapun, Sir Donatus Mola, Dr Alexis Sarei, Anthony Anugu, Joseph Kabui, Francis Ona, Leo Hannet, Moses Havini and many others who at different times of our history, added to the foundations of our journey. My government will need your continued support and patience, as we walk the journey of securing Bougainville sovereignty. We must maintain peace and unity at all times.
Mr Speaker, to the outgoing President – I acknowledge the presence and work of the outgoing President Hon Chief Dr John Momis. You have led Bougainville through the colonial era through to self-government and independence, you crafted the Constitution of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, you inserted the Organic Law on Provincial and Local Level Government; you later helped to amend to include the Organic Law on Peace Building in Bougainville; you have now served two terms as President of Bougainville. All in all, you have been our leader for about 45 years – your durability compares only with a very select group of eminent leaders in former Prime Ministers Somare and Chan. Yours is a contribution that will remain unmatched, and will forever be etched in the history of Bougainville. I thank you and salute you from the bottom of my heart. If you think you are going into retirement, then you are mistaken because I will be seeking your wise counsel at every opportunity.
Mr Speaker, some of our relatives and friends are still outside our journey for their own reasons. The Bougainville Peace Agreement provides for “pardon and amnesty” to any violations of human rights committed during the crisis, up to the point of conducting the Referendum. Any violations committed thereafter are law and order issues. I want to appeal to you, as your newly elected President, and as a soldier who fought with you, to come out and join me and my government in pursuit of our destiny.
Mr Speaker, to the other 24 Presidential Candidates who contested the presidential seat with me, we campaigned as colleagues appearing together in public forums in the major towns. This spirit of togetherness must continue as we move forward in our journey towards our common goal. I intend to tap into your enormous collective pool of knowledge and expertise and look forward to your continued active participation in the journey ahead.
Mr Speaker, now to the Public Service – yours is a mandate to be servants of the people. But too often you have become a self-serving organization, caring only about the perks and privileges you can enjoy. The public service must rediscover the spirit “of service” that we saw in the early days of independence and provincial government.
My presidency intends to have a closer look at the public service in order to realign with the needs of the people and I need your cooperation in this endeavor.
Mr Speaker, to the Youth and Women who constitute the most active economic population of our society. You are the now and the future of Bougainville society. My government intends to help you realize your potential. Yours is not a situation of men against women or that women should be allowed to perform certain roles, but a question of how men and women should work together better. Your roles are already prescribed by custom and by church doctrines. The divisive gender politics of western societies has no place in Bougainville society because it has led to unchristian values like “same sex marriage” in some societies. Instead we must find our own balance in enhancing the roles of women within the Bougainville context.
Mr Speaker, to the members of this Bougainville Parliament – you have run under various parties and on various platforms during the campaign. But we are all serving the one and the same 380,000 people of Bougainville. So let us join our many different leadership talents into a harmonious pool of leadership for the benefit of the people of Bougainville.
There will be differences in views from time to time, depending on the policy or matter of law, and depending on the political thinking of individual leaders. Indeed differences in opinion are a healthy sign of a mature democracy, and it needs to be exercised with responsibility. My government intends to encourage good public debate on key policy matters, both in parliament as well as in the community, through the various foras that exist today. Good public debate leads to good policies and laws.
Mr Speaker, last but not least, I very much look forward to your leadership in managing this House, in a way that will be reflective of the status of the House, as we are “political leader servants” of our people! It’s the people who have voted us into this House, and it is they who will also get us out of this House, if we do not deliver to their expectations. The people must be “front and centre” in any debate and decision making in this Parliament.
Mr Speaker, the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, the PNG Cabinet Ministers, the outgoing President Dr Chief John Momis, Ministers and Members of this Parliament, the Diplomatic Core and the people of Bougainville, I thank you once again for this opportunity to be your President and may God bless us All!