Bougainville News Alert : Read in full the newly elected President of Bougainville, Hon. Ishmael Toroama, outlining his six-point strategy under his leadership, in his maiden speech :

” 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 .

They are:
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!

 

Hon. Ishmael Toroama
President 

 

You can download a copy of the full speech here

Bougainville History of Independence : Buckingham Palace letters: Queen’s secretary compared Bougainville’s bid for independence to Scotland

” The Australian governor general John Kerr warned the Queen that a plan for Bougainville independence was not lawful, was opposed by Australia and Rio Tinto copper interests, and would increase regional instability and force Australia to hand more financial support to Papua New Guinea.

Originally published in the Guardian

Picture above  : Almost 100% of Bougainville voters backed independence in last year’s referendum but palace letters show Australia’s governor general John Kerr told the Queen that such a move ‘cannot be done legally

The so-called palace letters, a trove of previously secret royal correspondence, shows the Queen’s private secretary Martin Charteris responded by comparing Bougainville to Scotland and its hopes that oil reserves could fund independence.

The documents released by Australia’s national archives shed new light on the royal attitude to the secessionist movement in Bougainville.

Momentum for Bougainville to secede from Papua New Guinea grew as PNG itself declared independence from Australia in 1975, while retaining the Queen as its monarch.

The region is home to the vast Panguna mine, then the world’s biggest open-cut copper mine, owned by Bougainville Copper Limited, which then had Conzinc Rio Tinto as major shareholder.

Tensions over the mine would spark a bloody civil war that killed an estimated 20,000 people between 1988 and 1997.

On 19 August 1975, Kerr briefed Charteris on his “thinking” on the growing secessionist movement in Bougainville and a plan to secede unilaterally from PNG in September, the same month PNG secured its independence from Australia.

“This cannot be done legally,” Kerr wrote.

He said Rio Tinto was in favour of a “united Papua New Guinea”, though he said that may change if it deemed its long-term interests lay elsewhere.

Australia also had good reasons for opposing the secession, he said.

“There are good reasons from Australia’s point of view why a united Papua New Guinea would be desirable though achievement of this is probably not essential to Australia’s national interest,” he wrote.

“If Bougainville successfully secedes, Papua New Guinea would be weaker economically, and hence likely to be more pressing, so far as Australia is concerned, for economic support.”

“Bougainville secession would also increase the possibility of instability in Papua New Guinea in other areas.”

Kerr also lamented Australian aid cuts to PNG at the same time, saying they were “most unfortunate … on the very eve of independence”.

The Queen read Kerr’s advice, the letters show.

In replying to Kerr on 28 August 1975, Charteris compared Bougainville to Scotland and the way oil resources drove hope for Scottish independence.

He said the possibility of trouble was “disturbing” and that “we must hope that matters can at least be satisfactorily contained”.

“I suppose copper stands to the Provisional Provincial Government of Bougainville as does oil to the Scottish Nationalist Party,” he said.

“It gives them at least the belief that they could stand on their own two feet and the wish to do so, so that they can keep the wealth of their territory to themselves.”

Charteris made it plain that Kerr’s advice on Bougainville had reached the Queen.

“The Queen has of course seen your letter and has read it with much interest,” he wrote.

The 1975 momentum for secession was dealt with by granting the region more autonomy.

The decade-long civil war led to further autonomy for the region, and last year it voted overwhelmingly to become independent from PNG in a non-binding referendum.

 

Bougainville Referendum Results : ‘We are reborn’: Bougainville votes 97.7 % for independence from Papua New Guinea

” That’s my dream, to go and rebuild, We need the best policies, the best laws, to be the best country. We are reborn.”

Pajomile Minaka, from Bougainville’s southern region the 36-year old, who was a child during the conflict , told Reuters he was taking a law course to equip himself to help rebuild his homeland.

The people of Bougainville, an island group in Papua New Guinea, have voted overwhelmingly for independence.

Voters had two options – more autonomy, or full independence. Of the 181,000 ballots, almost 98% were in favour of independence.

The referendum was approved by the Papua New Guinea government, but the result is non-binding.

Nevertheless, the landslide victory will put pressure on PNG to grant Bougainville independence.

The islands have a population of around 300,000, and 206,731 people enrolled to vote in the referendum.

In total, 181,067 ballots were cast. Of those:

176,928 voted for independence
3,043 voted for greater autonomy
1,096 were classed as informal, or void.

“There’s tears, tears of joy, raw emotion – people have waited a long time, The pen is always mightier than the sword.

The results were announced in the town of Buka by former Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, the chairman of the Bougainville Referendum Commission.

“Now, at least psychologically, we feel liberated,” said John Momis, president of the regional autonomous government.

The ABG President, Chief DR JOHN MOMIS was lost for words after the results were declared by the Chair of the Bougainville Referendum Commission this afternoon.

In his address to the people who were present at the Hutjena Counting Centre, President Momis thanked the people for giving his ABG the clear mandate to consult with the National Government on the wishes of the people. He said that the people have spoken through the votes and the outcome will not be different.


President MOMIS also thanked the National Government for their commitment to complete the process and the end result must be a total and lasting peace for the people of Bougainville.
He also thanked the Donor partners, International organizations that observed the polling and the count the UN team, High Commissioners of Britain, Australia, New Zealand and many who were part of the peace process on Bougainville.

The President Momis mentioned the people of Bougainville that despite so many problems they have faced in the past kept their faith for the future of Bougainville as clearly demonstrated by their vote. He said nearly 98 percent for Independence is a huge testimony of what the people of Bougainville want for their future.

One Bougainvillian, nursing graduate Alexia Baria, told news agency AFP that “happiness was an understatement”.

“You see my tears – this is the moment we have been waiting for,” she said.

Will this place become the world’s next country?

Why was there a referendum?

Bougainville had a nine-year separatist war that began in 1988, fuelled by economic grievance.

The end of the fighting led to the Bougainville Peace Agreement, the creation of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, and the promise of a non-binding referendum on independence.

Even in colonial times, Bougainville was an outpost. The islands attempted to declare independence during the formation of Papua New Guinea in 1975 – but they were ignored.

What happens now?

The referendum was non-binding – meaning independence won’t happen automatically.

Discussions will take place with the Papua New Guinea government to decide when – or if – the transition to full independence can begin.

Although the PNG government was against independence, and does not have to accept the result, the huge mandate will make it hard to ignore.

The 98% result is above pre-referendum predictions – most experts expected the figure to be around 75% – 80%.

The PNG minister for Bougainville affairs, Puka Temu, said “the outcome is a credible one” – but asked that voters “allow the rest of Papua New Guinea sufficient time to absorb this result”.

Is Bougainville ready for independence?

The new country – should it happen – would be small, with a land mass of less than 10,000 sq km (slightly larger than Cyprus, and slightly smaller than Lebanon).

Likewise, its population would be one of the world’s smallest – slightly smaller than Pacific neighbour Vanuatu, and slightly bigger than Barbados.

But according to research by Australia’s Lowy Institute, Bougainville self-reliance would at best be years away.

The country is rich in natural resources – especially copper, which has been extracted on a large scale since the 1960s under Australian administration.

But mining has been crippled by the war – and the distribution of revenue was one of the factors behind the conflict.

One estimate cited by the Lowy Institute says Bougainville would only have 56% of the revenue needed to be self-reliant.

Bougainville Referendum News : As we celebrate Independence Day today for 2019, Simon Pentanu MHR GCL reflects on the upcoming referendum and the future political path of the Autonomous Region of #Bougainville.

 ” As we celebrate Independence Day for 2019, I want to reflect on the upcoming referendum and the future political path of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

As a Bougainvillean and a Papua New Guinean, I am less concerned about Greater Autonomy, Independence (or the ‘Third Choice’ whatever it might be). The simple fact is that two options are already guaranteed, and it is now for the people to make their choice.

My real concern is more about our insouciance and disregard for good governance that we must sternly guard against, whatever the political outcome of referendum will be. For, good governance is one of the major considerations that must be ticked off or crossed when it comes to ratification of the vote.

Here I say, take heed the soothsayers say, or forever hold your breath.”

Hon. Simon Pentanu MHR GCL : Speaker
Bougainville House of Representatives

Picture Above : Prime Minister, JAMES MARAPE and ABG President, DR. JOHN MOMIS signed the joint resolution September 12 at the Presidential villa Buka in front of journalists and the Ministers and members from both the ABG and the National Government. See Part 2 for full details or Download Document Here

12092019_JSB_Resolution

Whatever the choice is, and we know that Independence is the greater expectation of most Bougainvilleans, we have to make it work. This is the essence of my message today. Let us not tire of talking about good governance, honest and transparent leadership, common sense, and not being above or beyond reproach. Let us not forget the foundation stones and the building blocks of good government, regardless of what form that Government takes.

Adherence to good governance must be the message delivered in unison by the people to their representatives in the House of Representatives and to Leaders in Government. All Leaders, whether at the national, provincial or community government level, must be held to account.

Without regard for good governance the writing is on the wall. We know this from the countless examples of developing countries that have been turned into pariah states by their own Leaders in power.

Let us avoid the pitfalls of bad governance by making a conscious and conscientious choice for good governance without making compromises, taking short cuts or looking for quick fixes at the leadership level.

Nothing is more certain than the dire consequences that befall a people whose leaders turn a blind eye, a deaf ear and who play mute to the evils of corruption.

Conversely, nothing is more certain than the successes and gross national happiness and contentment that follows when elected leaders live up to the oaths and loyalties they swear by and the responsibilities they promise to live up to in office, leading the people from the front.

We can grab and take the opportunities to heart or we can squat and squander them. It is my sincere hope this Independence Day, that our leaders take the former rather than the latter path.

Hon. Simon Pentanu MHR GCL
Speaker
Bougainville House of Representatives

Part 2 Editors note

Congratulations to Simon Pentanu, who has been named on the 2019 Independence Day Anniversary Honours List. Simon Pentanu

Mr. Pentanu will be awarded the Grand Companion of the Order of Logohu (GCL) Conerred with the title of “Chief” for distinguished public service in the senior roles of Clerk of the National Parliament, Chief Ombudsman, and currently as Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

Part 3

Prime Minister, JAMES MARAPE and ABG President, DR. JOHN MOMIS signed the joint resolution in the afternoon at the Presidential villa in front of journalists and the Ministers and members from both the ABG and the National Government.

The first Agenda was concerning the request by the BRC to extend the Referendum date by six weeks from October 12th Polling to November 23rd Polling.


The BRC had sought for additional time for the referendum roll to be updated so that the outcome is credible and has integrity.


Agenda two was on weapons disposal, after the joint Weapons disposal secretariat briefed the JSB on the progress of the Me’ekamui Weapons disposal program, the JSB resolved and noted that the weapons disposal work must continue, and also touched on the National Reconciliation ceremony that must be held between the National Government and the ABG and also between the veterans.


Agenda three was on the Post Referendum Transition of which many discussions have been made and also looking at the legal issues going forward.


The JSB noted the progress made so far and resolved for the establishment of a Joint Ministerial Task Force on Post Referendum.


Approved for the Post Referendum Task Force to identify facilitators/moderators to assist in the Post referendum negotiation period.


And there must be one national moderator and one external moderator.


The fourth Agenda looked at the Restoration and Development Grants in which both governments have been at loggerheads over the calculations for the RDG.


The JSB resolved to accept the calculations made by an independent expert engaged by the UNDP and that officers work on these calculations and settle those outstanding through the RDG and SIF programs.


The JSB also resolved to approve a new arrangement for the National Government to provide 100 Million annually to the ABG for the next ten years starting next year.

 

Bougainville Referendum News : Chair of #BRC Bernie Ahern travels from the #UnitedNations in New York to Arawa , Buin and Buka for Bougainville Referendum Commission (BRC) roadshow this week

5 major news alerts this week ( July 1- 7) on the Bougainville Referendum

Follow Bougainville News on Twitter 

1 : Ahern urges focus on post-referendum peace in Bougainville ( From Irish Times )

2. Dates for this weeks BRC Bougainville Roadshow announced

3. Bougainville Referendum Commission Website

4. With a projected vote on independence from Papua New Guinea just three months away, suddenly Bougainville is the centre of a lot of activity.

5 : THE Pacific island of Bougainville is moving a step closer to potential independence from Papua New Guinea as preparations begin for a long-promised referendum later this year. (USA NEWS ) 

1  : Ahern urges focus on post-referendum peace in Bougainville 

 ” Chair of the Bougainville Referendum Commission (BRC)  Bertie Ahern last  week  stressed to the UN the need for focus on maintaining peace in Papua New Guinea after an independence referendum in the region later this year.

Mr Ahern met UN secretary general António Guterres in New York to discuss the progress of the peace process in the autonomous region of Bougainville.” 

Read full story from the Irish Times

2. Dates for this weeks BRC Bougainville Roadshow announced:

Arawa 9 July 2pm (Christmas Park),

Buin 10 July 1pm (Buin Secondary),

Buka 11 July 2pm (Bel Isi Park).

Information and progress updates from the Chair Hon Bertie Ahern and Commissioners

3. Bougainville Referendum Commission Website

Referendum is one of the pillars of the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA).

The BPA declares that in the Constitution of the Papua New Guinea National Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government, the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (ARoB) is guaranteed a referendum on Bougainville’s political future to be held amongst Bougainvilleans 10-15 years after the establishment of the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

ABG was established in 2005 and therefore, according to the Constitution, a referendum can be held between the years 2015 and 2020. Both governments will agree upon the official date of the referendum.

Issue of writs – August 16, 2019

Start of polling – October 12, 2019

See Bougainville Referendum Commission Website

4.With a projected vote on independence from Papua New Guinea just three months away, suddenly Bougainville is the centre of a lot of activity.

A crowd of people in Bougainville watching the handover of the agreed definitions for the two questions for the Independence Referendum. The first Greater Autonomy for Bougainville and the other full Independence from Papua New Guinea. Photo: Autonomous Bougainville Government

The vote, which is scheduled to start on 12 October, has already been moved once from 15 June.

Now there is a call for it to be delayed further, with the Bougainville Referendum Commission, which is in charge of preparing the region for the vote, saying more time is needed to ensure the integrity of the electoral roll.

A six-week extension was mentioned.

But the newly appointed PNG Minister of Bougainville Affairs, Sir Puka Temu, said the BRC needed to make a formal request if it wanted to delay the referendum.

“If the BRC thinks they need a little more time because of the credibility issue on the referendum roll then the Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) will be the body that will make the final decision. It is not the national government or the ABG, it is a JSB decision.

“If they say no then that’s it. If they agree then we will inform our people and the basis will be the credibility of the common roll,” he said.

That JSB meeting is set to be held in south Bougainville, in Buin.

The PNG Prime Minister, James Marape, then confirmed the National Executive Council, the cabinet, will hold its meeting there at the same time.

Sir Puka, who has significantly lifted the tempo on Bougainville since coming into the role just weeks ago, said it is vital for all of PNG’s leaders to show their commitment to the referendum process.

Two upcoming reconciliations are to be held on Bougainville at the same time before the referendum.

Sir Puka said a national reconciliation and another involving former combatants were postponed last month because of the PNG government’s change of leadership.

“Our commitment is to never again bring the military ever again onto the island – that’s our commitment.”

Sir Puka said these events will include commitments to dispose of weapons.

He said he came back from a visit to Bougainville two weeks ago with an “enormous level of comfort” that the former militant groups had given their commitment to the peace process.

Sir Puka said there are now teams on the ground preparing for the events at a date that is yet to be announced but expected to be the end of the month.

He said he embraced the reconciliations because of their importance to Melanesian culture and the commitment that the final outcome will be jointly negotiated.

“So as part of that is to guarantee the security of the process and also reconcile and rebuild the relationship amongst all of us – our soldiers on this side and ex-combatants on the other side because that will then remove this cloud of suspicion.”

Meanwhile, at discussions this week a British political scientist with experience in referenda said if Bougainville chooses independence from PNG it’s likely to be some years before it is implemented.

Coventry University’s Matt Qvortrup was in Port Moresby to speak to lawmakers about possible scenarios after the referendum.

He said if there is a clear vote for independence it’s still important that there is what he calls a ‘a just and fair divorce settlement’ – not just one party walking away.

Professor Qvortrup said he’d seen other referenda results implemented in a matter of months, for instance in Czechoslovakia and Ukraine, which said were examples of countries that broke up quickly.

“The more successful ones have taken a little bit longer, so I think the process of independence will probably take, my estimate compared to other cases would probably be up to five years, or even more,” he said.

Also, this week a survey of more than 1,000 Bougainvilleans found people still need to know more about the Bougainville Peace Agreement and the referendum.

One of the key findings of the second Bougainville Audience Study is the need for continuous awareness in the lead up to the referendum and beyond.

The ABG’s communications director, Adriana Schmidt, said the report provided a clear picture of the information needs of Bougainvilleans going into the vote.

She said people want to know more about what the two options – greater autonomy and independence – mean in practical terms, and to understand what happens after the vote.

5 : THE Pacific island of Bougainville is moving a step closer to potential independence from Papua New Guinea as preparations begin for a long-promised referendum later this year.

Whether it can survive as a stand-alone nation is a key question for its 250,000 inhabitants, and for other separatist movements in the Pacific.

Published Here

The future course of the island could ripple across the region, as the question of Bougainville’s independence will touch on a complicated mixture of business concerns, environmental worries and geopolitical interests stretching from Australia and New Zealand to ChinaJapan and the United States.

It’s an outsized international role for Bougainville, which lies 900 kilometers (560 miles) east of the Papua New Guinea mainland. The roots of the referendum stem from a bitter inter-clan and separatist conflict that ran from 1988 to 1997, fighting that claimed between 10,000 and 20,000 lives through a combination of violence, disease, poverty and dislocation.

 

A truce brokered and maintained by regional neighbors that included Australia, New Zealand and Fiji helped restore order, and a comprehensive peace agreement was signed between Papua New Guinea and Bougainville in 2001. The island has had its own autonomous government since 2005.

Bougainville’s people are expected to vote decisively for independence in the Oct. 17 referendum, according to Jonathan Pryke, Pacific Islands program director at the Lowy Institute, a Sydney-based policy think tank. The vote is not binding and any move toward independence will require agreement from the central government of Papua New Guinea, commonly referred to as PNG.

Most people hope the two sides can find a “Melanesian solution” that will deliver a workable form of autonomy for Bougainville, says Pryke, using the term that describes the region of the South Pacific that includes PNG, Fiji, the Solomon Islands and other island nations and territories.

James Marape, who took over as Papua New Guinea’s prime minister in late May, said on June 14 he would prefer Bougainville to remain part of a unified nation, but would listen to the people’s voice and then consult over future options.

Peter Jennings, executive director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Sydney, says the desire for independence in Bougainville remains strong, but from a regional perspective it will be best if the Bougainville people decided to stay in Papua New Guinea. “We don’t need another microstate emerging in the Pacific.”

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, who visited Bougainville on June 19 with PNG’s new minister for Bougainville Affairs, Sir Puka Temu, said Australia will work to ensure the integrity of the referendum and will not pass judgment on the result. Australia is by far the biggest aid donor in the Pacific region, giving $6.5 billion between 2011 and 2017, according to research last year by the Lowy Institute. Most of Australia’s aid goes to Papua New Guinea.

Scars Remain From a Civil War

The Bougainville conflict, in which rival clans on the island fought among themselves and with the Papua New Guinea Defence Force, evolved from multiple issues, including land rights, customary ownership, “outsider” interference and migration, mineral resource exploitation, and perceived inequities and environmental damage associated with the rich Panguna copper mine.

Under the terms of the 2001 peace agreement, a vote on independence within 20 years was promised.

A reconciliation ceremony will be held on July 2 between the central PNG government, the national defence force, the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the Bougainville Revolutionary Army.

Deep scars remain from the conflict, both physical and emotional. Much of the island’s public infrastructure remains in poor shape, educational opportunities are limited, and corruption is pervasive. Clan rivalry and suspicion persists, particularly in regard to land rights and resource development.

Since Panguna closed in May 1989, Bougainville’s people have led a life built around agriculture and fishing. The cocoa and copra industries ravaged by the war have been re-established, there is small-scale gold mining, and potential for hydroelectric power and a revived forestry industry. For now, a lack of accommodation inhibits tourism.

Copper Mine Underscores Doubts over Bougainville’s Economic Viability

Almost 40 years ago, Bougainville’s Panguna mine was the biggest contributor to Papua New Guinea’s export income and the largest open-cut in the world. But the mine, operated by BCL, a subsidiary of Conzinc Riotinto Australia (now Rio Tinto Ltd.), became a focal point for conflict over pollution, migrant workers, resource ownership and revenue sharing, and has been dormant since 1989.

Apart from any foreign aid it may receive, Bougainville’s future prosperity may well depend on whether it can restart the mine, which contains copper and gold worth an estimated $50 billion. But customary ownership claims – land used for generations by local communities without the need for legal title – remain unresolved and at least three mining groups are in contention, which means an early restart is unlikely. Jennings cautions against investing too much hope in Panguna, with remediation costs after 30 years of disuse likely to be high.

Likewise, Luke Fletcher, executive director of the Sydney-based Jubilee Australia Research Centre, which studies the social and environmental impacts of resources projects on Pacific communities, says reopening Panguna would be a long, expensive and difficult proposition. He says the challenge for any mine operator would be developing a project that is environmentally safe, yet still deliver an acceptable return to shareholders and to the government.

Bougainville’s leader, President John Momis, believes that large-scale mining offers the best chance for income generation and is keen both to revive Panguna and encourage other projects. That would require outside investment, which was a factor contributing to the outbreak of violence in the late 1980s. The local community perceived that it was not getting its fair share of Panguna’s wealth.

Rio Tinto gave up its share in BCL in 2016, and ownership now rests with the government of PNG and the Bougainville government, each with 36.4%. Independent shareholders own the remaining 27.2%.

At least two other groups are vying to operate Panguna. Sir Mel Togolo, the BCL chairman, told the company’s annual general meeting on May 2 that continued uncertainty about Panguna’s tenure remains a big challenge. “We will need to work cooperatively with all stakeholders to achieve our objective of bringing the Panguna mine back into production,” he said.

Regional, International Eyes on October Referendum

With doubts persisting about Bougainville’s economic viability if it cuts ties with the central government, the referendum outcome will be closely watched by other PNG provinces pushing for greater autonomy, such as East New Britain, New Ireland and Enga.

Across the region, some parts of neighboring Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands are agitating for their own separate identities. In the nearby French overseas territory of New Caledonia, voters rejected independence from France by a 56 percent to 44 percent margin in November 2018. European settlers were heavily in favor of staying part of France, while indigenous Kanak people overwhelmingly voted for independence.

At the international level, Australia will be keen to ensure that whatever the outcome of the Bougainville referendum, stability is maintained in Papua New Guinea, if only to counter China’s growing interest in offering aid and economic benefits as it builds a Pacific presence.

Along with Japan, New Zealand and the U.S., Australia has committed to a 10-year $1.7 billion electrification project in Papua New Guinea. Australia and the U.S. have agreed to help Papua New Guinea redevelop its Manus Island naval base, which sits 350 kilometers north of the mainland and commands key trade routes into the Pacific.

Jennings says Australia would be likely to give aid to an independent Bougainville to try to keep China at bay. “China is everywhere. Its destructive connections co-opt leaderships in a way that doesn’t work out well for people.”

From a strategic perspective, Jennings says it would be best if Melanesia looked to Australia as its main partner on matters of security.

While China gives most of its aid to PNG and Fiji, the region’s two biggest economies, Jubilee’s Fletcher says China giving aid to an independent Bougainville was “feasible.”

Geoff Hiscock is a Sydney-based journalist with a focus on international business

 

Bougainville Referendum News : Simon Pentanu says ” In setting up our own #Bougainville Ombudsman office, we first need to ask ourselves, what kind of society do we want #Bougainville to become? “

 

” In setting up our own Ombudsman office, we first need to ask ourselves, what kind of society do we want Bougainville to become?

A Bougainville Ombudsman that is fully functional and has the support and respect of elected leaders and the people can set the tone for the whole society – government, business and the community. To this end a nurturing role in a highly involved mentoring and consultative process would be fitting

How important is it to us to have a body that holds our elected leaders to account and encourages open, transparent government? How much can we do with what we have?

Those are the sorts of questions we need to be asking.

We have many hard decisions to make and challenges to face, which is a normal process of growing up. Autonomy means building our state institutions in governance and in other sectors.

A serious discussion about a Bougainville Ombudsman immediately at back the end of Referendum process would be timely and important.” 

Simon Pentanu : As from 2015 Speaker of the Bougainville House of Representatives and was PNG’s Chief Ombudsman 1995-2000

Bougainville should begin the groundwork soon to have its own Ombudsman by 2020-22.

The Autonomous Bougainville Constitution provides for a Bougainville Ombudsman.

I reckon by the year 2025 it should be sufficiently well established to be inducted a member of the International Ombudsman Institute.

The kind of Ombudsman Bougainville needs is an oversight body – to oversee the activities of government and give the people confidence that their representatives are following the rules and governing transparently. The Ombudsman’s purpose must be clearly understood and appreciated by everyone – that is, by the governors who are elected to lead and by the governed, who have an expectation that those that they elect to govern can be trusted to lead.

My six years as PNG’s Chief Ombudsman have given me many insights into what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to oversight bodies and how time and resources can be wasted if the right efforts are not being made to bring to bear the changes and results needed.

Photo: Attending the International Ombudsman Institute Board of Directors, Pretoria, South Africa 2000

Without sounding idealistic and simplistic, if Bougainville borrows the best practices and processes from the PNG Ombudsman Commission and discards those that have rendered its processes tardy, futile and adversarial, as well as looks at the strengths of the traditional role of the Ombudsman around the world, Bougainville’s Ombudsman could be a vital, effective cog in our democratic machinery.

In setting up our own Ombudsman office, we first need to ask ourselves, what kind of society do we want Bougainville to become?

A Bougainville Ombudsman that is fully functional and has the support and respect of elected leaders and the people can set the tone for the whole society – government, business and the community. To this end a nurturing role in a highly involved mentoring and consultative process would be fitting.

Bougainville is a relatively small Island in terms of land size and population but has the resourcefulness and a wealth of experiences to learn from its past and steer clear of bumps and potholes into the future. If we are serious about Bougainville’s future wherever we are, we should all think, metaphorically speaking, like an Ombudsman.

The institution of Ombudsman that functions well and which a society can relate to in terms of delivering on the expectations of good, honest government can be tremendous help and value to society.

And the old adage is worth keeping in mind: if a job is worth doing at all, it’s worth doing well. A Bougainville Ombudsman that will nurture and develop our leaders to appreciate their roles as elected representatives and their value to society, cannot depend solely on the advice and assistance of the over-stretched Ombudsman Commission of PNG. We need to look to the best international models and learn from the premier international examples.

We are fortunate to have the recently established PNG Ombudsman Commission Regional Office in Buka. That office can be used to start the groundwork for establishing a Bougainville Ombudsman, but that should not be the only source of our advice and assistance.

Let us not stall on establishing, or seriously thinking about, important state institutions under the Autonomous arrangements on the basis of lack of funds. Whenever we hold out inadequate finances as the main explanation we will keep believing this to be obstacle. A better way to think about it is that we have challenges in how we allocate and spend our available financial resources. We have to prioritise.

How important is it to us to have a body that holds our elected leaders to account and encourages open, transparent government? How much can we do with what we have? Those are the sorts of questions we need to be asking.

We have many hard decisions to make and challenges to face, which is a normal process of growing up. Autonomy means building our state institutions in governance and in other sectors. A serious discussion about a Bougainville Ombudsman immediately at back the end of Referendum process would be timely and important.

Having said all of the above I would also seriously caution the ABG and the House of Representatives not to rush into invoking the constitutional provision to create a Bougainville Ombudsman Commission overnight or before the referendum if the intention or motive is to avoid any elected leader in Bougainville from being referred to the Ombudsman Commission of PNG for alleged misconduct in office under the leadership Code.

Bougainville News coverage : AROB ABG Day celebrates our 13 years as Autonomous Bougainville Government and the question is asked What are Bougainville’s greatest resources?

This is a day that should be celebrated by all Bougainvilleans.

 The past 13 years has brought many challenges for Bougainville as we continue our journey towards political self-determination we have faced obstacles, these includes lack of funds, limited capacity and constraints on our ability to deliver effective services to our people.

 I am proud with what Bougainville has achieved so far.

 Bougainville has demonstrated through the establishments and operation of democratic institutions that we can indeed manage our own affairs

The ABG President Chief DR. JOHN MOMIS when addressing today’s ABG Day celebration at the ABG House, KUBU said that today marks the anniversary of the day when Bougainville’s political aspirations were first recognized with the formal establishment of the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

Intro Photo Bruno Louey see FB Page Bruno Louey

 

 ” What are Bougainville’s greatest resources?

Not everyone will agree but I believe they are our environment, our cultures and our people.

When we think about how to transform Bougainville into a developing, progressive region in the modern world, it’s important we do so by harnessing and protecting these resources.

Our environment, cultures and people are the things that have sustained us for countless generations past – and they can continue to do so today and into the future if we are smart.

Keeping our natural environment healthy while transforming Bougainville into a modern, progressive region is something the ABG can achieve only in close consultation with communities – the land owners and culture custodians

Simon Pentanu Speaker AROB House of Representatives see part 2

There is concern in Bougainville that the Papua New Guinea government has put off a key meeting for two weeks.

The Joint Supervisory Board, the JSB, was to meet yesterday {THUR}  in Arawa, to resolve a number of key issues concerning next year’s planned vote in Bougainville on possible independence from PNG.

But at the behest of Port Moresby the JSB meeting was put back two weeks.

Don Wiseman spoke to the deputy leader of the PNG opposition and MP for southern Bougainville, Timothy Masiu, about the delay

Listen to interview

Part 1 ABG President Chief DR. JOHN MOMIS addresses ABG Day celebration

The ABG President Chief DR. JOHN MOMIS when addressing today’s ABG Day celebration at the ABG House, KUBU said that today marks the anniversary of the day when Bougainville’s political aspirations were first recognized with the formal establishment of the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

The President said that Bougainville has implemented important reforms established enabling laws and developed public service institutions and structures for the future.

And through the finalization of our strategic development plan we have a road map for the future that includes the referendum and beyond.

President MOMIS stressed that Bougainville cannot become complacent as we mark the anniversary of the Autonomous Government we must also continue to recognize the continued issues that we face.

He said we must remain vigilant in our fight against corruption and in our desire to ensure that our affairs are conducted according to the highest standards of good governance.

At the same time we must continue to grow our economy, empower our people and lay the continued foundation for lasting peace and prosperity throughout Bougainville.

Part 2 THIRTEEN YEARS ON THE SAME MESSAGE CAN BE REPEATED ON BOUGAINVILLE DAY 2018.

 ” THE morning began with a dawn service. The heavens opened with clear blue skies above and cool breeze from the sea unfurling the PNG, Bougainville and NSW flags to show their cacophony of colours flapping high on flagstaff.

The Bougainville Parliament devoted today’s 13th AROB Day celebrations to the Youth of Bougainville with students from St Mary’s Asitavi Secondary, St Joseph’s College Mabiri, Bishop Wade Secondary and Hutjena Secondary, invited to attend.

Our other main guests was a parliamentary delegation from the NSW State Parliament.

Our theme 2018: Children and Youth represent continuity and future of Bougainville.”

Simon Pentanu Speaker

As another Bougainville Day arrived and passed us by we continue to contemplate, celebrate and share the belief, hope and faith that with the right efforts and proper use of resources Bougainville will continue be a resilient society among its Melanesian brothers in the country and in the Pacific Islands.

What are Bougainville’s greatest resources?

Not everyone will agree but I believe they are our environment, our cultures and our people.

When we think about how to transform Bougainville into a developing, progressive region in the modern world, it’s important we do so by harnessing and protecting these resources.

Our environment, cultures and people are the things that have sustained us for countless generations past – and they can continue to do so today and into the future if we are smart.

Keeping our natural environment healthy while transforming Bougainville into a modern, progressive region is something the ABG can achieve only in close consultation with communities – the land owners and culture custodians.

Wherever we look around the world, there are lessons we can learn. Some communities and their environments have become victims of progress, not partners in development.

Think about the Melanesian people of West Papua. In the past 40 years vast quantities of their gold, copper, timber, palm oil and other resources have been mined, chopped down, extracted and exported, but few impartial observers would say this has been to the benefit of West Papua’s environment, cultures and people.

Of course, the vast majority of the resource extraction that has happened in West Papua has been undertaken with little or zero community consultation.

We have the opportunity to do things differently. To this end Bougainville’s mining legislation and policies address this. Let us hope it works in practice so that all parties involved in this industry and any such investment which harnesses resources are equal opportunity benefactors.

When we consider the various options open to us, I believe a CGP (community government partnership) is a more sustainable choice than a PPP (public private partnership). PPP have not really worked to any great success anywhere because there is still a dependence and expectation syndrome on the public purse of governments.

Free enterprise in our community oriented existence must involve initiatives and better participation by women at sustainable levels where they haven proven themselves in local enterprises.

CGP has the community as its starting point. CGP is a partnership that regards and protects the environment as enduring capital for sustainable humanitarian development.

A PPP is fine if it regards resource owners in communities as equal partners. But too often PPPs see resources merely as disposable commodities and consumables in a profit-oriented business model.

That way of thinking ends up depleting our strongest long-term assets for short-term gains that are here one year and gone the next.

Bougainville’s greatest resources – our environment, our cultures and our people – deserve so much better than that.

We can learn from the lessons from the past – some of which have been the most profound insofar as they have affected Bougainville more than any other society in Melanesia, and the whole of the Pacific for that matter.

Bougainville News : Consultancy: Communications Strategy – Bougainville Referendum Project

The PNG National Research Institute as part of its work in researching and analysing strategic issues for national development, consider the Referendum and Bougainville to be of a significant national event that will impact the well-being of the people of Bougainville and the people of PNG.

Download the Terms of reference :

Bougainville-Referendum-Communications-Strategy

Or NRI Website

The PNG NRI therefore independently plans to undertake a set of research projects that will generate information to inform discussions in preparation for the referendum so that the outcome is credible and respected by all parties and ensuring a peaceful outcome for the people of Bougainville.

The PNG NRI research project proposes to inquire and inform stakeholders on three key central questions:

  • What is a Referendum and why is it being held?
  • How can the Referendum be effectively administered?
  • What are possible outcomes and how can the outcome of the Referendum be effectively managed and implemented?

The Institute seeks applications from qualified candidates to develop the Communications Strategy for the project.  This is a critical piece of work that will provide a foundation for dissemination of the research generated by the Project.

The strategy will be developed on a consultancy basis.  Applications are due by Friday 26 May 2017.

The Bougainville Referendum Research – Communication Strategy

Background Information

1.1. The Bougainville Referendum

The people of Bougainville will vote in a Referendum before June 15 2020 to determine their political future; – a choice between whether Bougainville remains a part of Papua New Guinea under an Autonomous Governance Arrangement, or to become a fully Independent State, an option to be included in the Referendum.

This is an important milestone as part of a Peace Agreement reached in 2001 following a brutal Civil War between 1989 and 1999.

The conflict was initially triggered by issues over redistribution over landowner benefits from the Bougainville Copper mine, then fuelled by long held secessionist sentiments mobilised into a civil war against PNG Government forces, that later flared into localised conflicts between different factions after the government forces withdrew and maintained a blockade around the islands of Bougainville.

The war resulted in more than ten thousand persons estimated to have been killed and destruction of major infrastructure as well as social disruptions leaving half the population of Bougainville displaced.

Cessation of fighting in 1998 led to negotiations for a Peace Agreement.

One of the key stickypoints in the negotiations was a call by factions of the Bougainville delegation on a Referendum for Independence. This was finally agreed to, but deferred to a period after fifteen years following the establishment of an autonomous Bougainville Government but before the end of twenty years.

Reports and findings from recent studies done on Bougainville indicate a lack of general information about what is a Referendum and its purpose.

It is important that the people of Bougainville are clear about the purpose of the referendum, the choices available and the implications of their choice of a political future when they cast their vote.

The Referendum outcome also has implications for the wider PNG as it challenges the essence of the PNG Nation State for maintaining a unified country of a diversified people, yet ensuring that a peaceful outcome is achieved for Bougainville.

It is therefore also critical for robust informed discussions that would lead to informed decisions and outcomes over Bougainville’s future as well about autonomous governance arrangements in PNG.

 

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

 

james

 

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

Hon. Patrick Nisira Vice President

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hon. Patrick Nisira

Vice President

Bougainville Peace Walk : Let us keep walking and talking peace !

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 ” A Peace Walk may happen only one day in a year. But we must wear peace on our sleeves and bear it in our hearts everyday. It is the most precious and rewarding gift that we can wear, bear and share with others in our life time.

This is not a project in the conventional or orthodox sense. A message for peace is a potent message, a way of life if you like, that all humanity must subscribe to globally.

Bougainville has something to show for its commitment to peace that was born out of a desire to return to peace by peaceful means.

The Bougainville Peace Agreement, a joint creation by the National Government and the leaders of Bougainville is a testimony to this commitment.

We can better reach and embrace others in peace with us only after we make peace within ourselves.

Simon Pentanu Speaker of the House

Photo above : This is part of the crowd  that participated in the annual Peace Walk from Parliament House, Kubu to Bel Isi Park, Buka town on Friday 09 December 2016. 

The BPA is our political trajectory for peace, a joint memorandum if you like, created between the National Government and Bougainville leaders. That the BPA was agreed to with its signing witnessed by representatives of the international community and Pacific | Oceania regional leaders is a testament by all parties for an unerring desire to see sustainable peace in Bougainville.

If you are looking for impact and performance indicators where peace is at and how we have faired since the signing of the BPA since end of August 2001, one of the best places to look is the last place we often go looking, that is to our heart and within our heart.

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By anyone’s measure or comparison I am prepared to be shot down in saying that the peace process and progress in Bougainville has been exponential. This has required and involved the efforts and commitment of many people and many organizations. But most of all it has required the willingness, cooperation and commitment on Bougainville, of Bougainvilleans to sustain it thus far.

Thank you Buka Town Manager for your support.

Thank you to the ABG Ministers who walked with everyone from start to finish.

Thank you BWF and the many women who braved and enjoyed the walk for a good cause that is universal and very relevant to Bougainville; special thanks to the students from Kamarau International School who were the peace banner bearers on the walk all the way; grateful thanks to members of the civil society whose hearts’ desire always responds readily to occasions like this; thank you to UNDP and other agencies of the UN family for your unequivocal support for peace for a better Bougainville. The mobile support ahead provided by the Bougainville police is appreciated, thank you.

Thank you to the person in the wheelchair who willed and supported this day and wheeled all the way from start to finish. You were not just another person in the Walk. You made a big, special effort. We applaud and thank you.

Thank you Chief Secretary and our senior and rank and file public servants and officials; thank you any political staff that came along.

Thank you to everyone else that took part. Let us keep doing it. You can never have enough, or make enough, peace. Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

The onus is on us.

Let us keep Walking !