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.
Multinational mining giant Rio Tinto has agreed to fund an independent assessment of the human rights and environmental impacts of its former Panguna copper and gold mine in Papua New Guinea’s autonomous region of Bougainville.
Rio Tinto abandoned the mine in 1989 during a brutal civil conflict on Bougainville and now no longer holds a stake after controversially divesting its shareholding to the PNG and Bougainville governments in 2016, rejecting corporate responsibility for environmental damage.
The mining agreement, negotiated by Rio Tinto with the Australian government in the 1960s, when PNG was a colony, did not include significant environmental regulations or liability for mine site rehabilitation.
An estimated billion tonnes of mine tailings pollution has now spread downstream from Panguna, spreading across the Jaba-Kawerong river delta stretching 40 kilometres to the coast.
“This is an important day for communities on Bougainville,” said traditional landowner and MP Theonila Roka Matbob, representing the communities involved in the complaint.
“Our people have been living with the disastrous impacts of Panguna for many years and the situation is getting worse. The mine continues to poison our rivers.”
“These problems need to be urgently investigated so solutions can be developed and clean-up can begin. Today’s announcement gives us hope for a new chapter for our people.”
Last November, a complaint by 156 landowners against Rio Tinto was accepted by the Australian government for mediation under its obligations as a member of the OECD club of wealthy nations.
Their environmental and human rights claim states: “The mine pollution continues to infringe nearly all the economic, social and cultural rights of these indigenous communities, including their rights to food, water, health, housing and an adequate standard of living”.
“This is an important first step towards engaging with those impacted by the legacy of the Panguna mine,” Rio Tinto chief executive Jakob Stausholm said in a statement.
“Operations at Panguna ceased in 1989 and we’ve not had access to the mine since that time. Stakeholders have raised concerns about impacts to water, land and health and this process will provide all parties with a clearer understanding of these important matters so that together we can consider the right way forward.”
“We take this seriously and are committed to identifying and assessing any involvement we may have had in adverse impacts in line with our external human rights and environmental commitments and internal policies and standards.”
The Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) has confirmed it supports the process.
Rio Tinto has not yet committed to funding clean-up and remediation of the mine.
The Panguna mine was one of the world’s largest copper and gold mines, generating an estimated US$2 billion in revenue for Rio Tinto during the 1970s and 1980s.
Disputes over jobs for landowners, environmental pollution and distribution of profits sparked a decade-long ‘Bougainville Crisis’ civil war in 1989 that claimed the lives of nearly 15,000 people.
Landowners also want Rio Tinto to fund long-term rehabilitation efforts.
“This assessment is a critical first step towards addressing that legacy,” said Keren Adams, a legal director at the Human Rights Law Centre.
“However, we stress that it is only the first step. The assessment will need to be followed up by swift action to address these problems so that communities can live in safety.”
“Communities urgently need access to clean water for drinking and bathing. They need solutions to stop the vast mounds of tailings waste eroding into the rivers and flooding their villages, farms and fishing areas. This is what remediation means in real terms for the people living with these impacts.”
Estimates of the cost for full mine site and downstream tailings rehabilitation is in the billions of dollars.
“It’s destroyed the sago palms and other trees … and destruction continues. You can see where the fertile land is covered over,” said downstream landowner and claimant George Posiona.
“It’s taking up a large area and we believe in a few years time we will not be able to plant food. It continues to flow down and destroy this land.”
The Department of Treasury’s OECD National Contact Point (AusNCP) is responsible for mediating the dispute, issue findings, and recommending action to address any breaches.
The announcement comes as Rio Tinto continues to face a federal parliamentary inquiry into the destruction of the sacred Aboriginal Juukan Gorge cave site in Western Australia which contained evidence of 46,000 years of human use.
Bougainville overwhelmingly voted for independence from Papua New Guinea in 2019 and hopes to gain nationhood by 2027.
Debate continues over whether to reopen the mine to underpin the economic security of Bougainville.
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.
His political career spanned from 1968 until his retirement from parliament in 2017. He was PNG’s first and longest serving prime minister.
Dr Momis, was a Catholic priest from 1970-93, He became active in politics and was elected to parliament in 1972. He co-wrote the PNG constitution and, following the end of the civil war, he was appointed Bougainville governor from 1999 until 2005. He has also served as PNG’s ambassador to China.
On Sir Michael’s retirement from politics, Dr Momis wrote:
“My personal relationship with Sir Michael Somare dates back to our younger days. Fate brought us together over barbecue and beer in Wewak. Little did we know that soon we would be partners in forging a path for Papua New Guinea. I was full of idealism and he was brimming with pragmatism.
“The combination of two different yet attuned minds resulted in greater efforts to blaze that path; one which not many at that time dared to tread.
Our minds were shaped by the events of the tumultuous 1960s when young men in America were sent to wage war in Vietnam and personalities like Martin Luther King and the Kennedys were taking the world by storm with their ideals and advocacy….
“Sir Michael exercised his role as a true politician – guided by his faith and embracing his role as a vocation. He ventured into the unknown, responding to a call without fear. He was there always ready to listen and to implement results of choices and judgements….
“Instead of shrinking from the challenges of his time, like the fear of independence and the injustices of colonialism, he literally gave himself to pursue his vision of an inspiring future for Papua New Guinea. It was a mark of a true leader that he took the bold step of making things happen and took ownership of major decisions, unpopular as they might have been.
“I owe Sir Michael much. For a pragmatist to put his full trust and confidence in an ideologue like me is a rarity.”
2.Condolence Message from the Office of the President on the passing of the Late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare
It is with the greatest of sadness that the Autonomous Region of Bougainville joins the rest of the nation to mourn the loss of the Father of the country Grand Chief Sir Michael Thomas Somare.
The Late Sir Michael Somare has had a close relationship with Bougainville from the formative years of Papua New Guinea until our most recent history. His association with Bougainville goes back to the days when PNG and Bougainville sought independence from our Australian colonial masters.
It was through this association that he forged a lifelong relationship with the people as well as our early leaders such as Sir Paul Lapun, Sir Donatus Mola, Raphael Bele and Grand Chief Dr. John Momis.
As President I pay tribute to Sir Michael’s contribution to the Bougainville Peace Process. During the tumultuous years of the Crisis Sir Michael played a pivotal role in the negotiations. In 2002 when he reassumed the Prime Ministership he continued the work of his predecessor the Late Sir Mekere Morauta to implement the Bougainville Peace Agreement. As Prime Minister, Sir Michael oversaw the formation of the Autonomous Bougainville Government in 2005.
The Late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare was a pious man, a Christian man who upheld the values of devotion to God, Country and Family. His lasting legacy was his ability to lead a nation of a thousand tribes and unify them under a common goal and that was freedom. The freedom to express ourselves, the freedom to be masters of our own destiny and the freedom to be diversified yet unified as one nation under God.
On behalf of my family and the Autonomous Bougainville Government I would like to extend the sincerest condolences of the people and government of Bougainville to family of the Late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare. May God Almighty grant you solace in your time of bereavement.
You served this country faithfully and with love, now let you find eternal peace in the arms of your creator.
Hon. Ishmael Toroama MHR
3.Peter L Tsiamalili SPEECH – STATE FUNERAL IN PARLIAMENT
Thank you Mr Speaker, Your Excellency Governor General, Chief Justice, Hon. Prime Minister, Former Prime Ministers,Hon. Members, Distinguish Guests Papua New Guinea and Bouganville.
Olsem Regional Member blong Bogenvil mi laik makim maus blo President blong Mipla, Hon. Ismael Toroama, ABG Govenment na ol Pipol blong Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
Mi laik kisim displa taim too long givim luk save long ol chief man blo mipla husait bin sanap wantaim late Grand Chief, Sir Paul Lapun- Passed Pangu Leadership to him in 1972, Sir Alexius Holyweek Sarei- Somare’s First Chief Of Staff Sir, Donatus Mola, Anthony Anugu, Joseph Lue, Raphael Bele na Grand Chief Dr John Momis- who he appointed to chair the Constitutional Planning Committee
Today is a sad day for Papua New Guinea and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (AROB) as we mourn the passing of our founding father.
On behalf my wife, Wendy, my children, my mother Ruth Tsiamalili, my siblings, the people of Kunua, Keriaka, Torokina, Bana and my people of Bougainville , I would like to pass my deepest condolences and heart felt sorrow to lady and mama Veronica , my brothers Sana, Arthur , Michael junior and my sisters Bertha and Dulciana together with your children .
For me and my mother and sibling we have a special appreciation for Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare.
When the Bougainville crisis erupted furiously in 1988 with reckless killings, he rescued my father late Peter Tsiamalili (snr) and us (family) from Kieta and brought us to Popondetta, where my mother is from.
My late father was the last North Solomon Provincial Secretary (now known as the Provincial Administrator) under the old Provincial Government system. North Solomon was known as that before we got our autonomous status under the Bougainville Peace Agreement(ABG).
Grand Chief was the Foreign Affairs Minister under the Namaliu Government, at that time during the peak of the crisis, the rebels were threatening the elite Bougainvilleans and my late father was one of the elite Bougainvilleans on the rebels list.
But Grand Chief is a man who foresees the future ahead of any one.
Just like he had foreseen a bright future to unite Papua New Guinea to become one nation when the odds were against him, he also foresaw the future of Bougainville right from the starting of the criss.
And when everyone was considering violence to solve the crisis and a bleak future between Bougainvilleans and Papua New Guineans, he foresaw a peaceful Bougainville once again and how Bougainvilleans and Papua New Guineans will work together to restore Government services and to restore normalcy back on Bougainville.
Fellow Papua New Guineans and Bougainvilleans, Grand Chief saw that my father will be needed to restore Government Services back on Bougainville for Bougainvilleans to carry on their peaceful daily lives by continuing their colorful and unique Melanesian traditional culture in their tranquility environment , living in harmony with our Melanesian brothers of the Solomon Island and maintaining the relationships between these two great Melanesian brothers (PNG and Solomon Island ) .
And so he removed my father and brought him to Popondetta. Although in Popondetta, Grand Chief was still concern of my late father’s safety as he still had plans for Bougainville future after the crisis.
And so he sent my father to the United Nations in New York City, USA, then appointed him to be High Commissioner to Fiji and then as far away to Europe to be the Ambassador to the European Union in Brussels, far away from the turmoil that was raging between PNG and Bougainville and at times threatened Solomon Island as well.
While my father was far away in safety, Grand Chief was heavily involved in restoring peace on Bougainville as the Bougainville Minister under the late Sir Mekere Government.
By the time the crisis was over, Grand Chief as the Prime Minister, sent my father back to Bougainville to be the first Administrator (now known as Chief Secretary to the Autonomous Bougainville Government) in 2005 after the formation of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) to restore Government services back on Bougainville.
And it was very heartwarming for Grand Chief during my late father’s funeral services at Saint Joseph Catholic Church in Port Moresby to retell this story as part of his tribute to my late father in April 2007. I’m now retelling this story as part of my tribute to Grand Chief state funeral here at the National Parliament.
This story is not only for the Somare and the Tsiamalili families.
This is the story for the new relationship and future of Bougainvilleans and Papua New Guineans.
My fellow Bougainvilleans and Papua New Guineans, Grand Chief already fore saw peace on Bougainville long before the signing of the Bougainville Peace Agreement in 2001, long before restoration of Government services through the formation of the ABG and long before the referendum which saw 98 % of the Bougainvilleans voted for Independence.
The people of west and east Sepik mipla tok tenkiu long upla long givim mipla Sana, The Greatest ever Melanesian Paramount Chief of all time, and trailblazing Pacific leader, PNG’s father Of Unity. Farewell My Grand Chief may your soul rest in eternal peace with our Creator until we meet again, God bless Papua New Guinea and Bougainville.
4. Tribute to Sir Michael Somare by SIMON PENTANU
Like a candle you grew from a flicker to a national light that made everyone realise arguing for independence was not evil or risky but inevitable”. Simon Pentanu
It was at the pinnacle of high school education at Hutjena, Buka, and the following final year high school at Malabunga, ENB 1968 that I started hearing about an angry young man in Papua and New Guinea. To be exact in the emerging politics of what was then pre-independence TPNG.
Doing final year high school I wondered how long it would take before the colonial government pulled this angry young man aside and into line.
To cut a long story short, when we were given the stock career book then at the end of high school to make our career choices, two things influenced my decision to apply as an interpreter in the pre-independence House of Assembly.
First was the intriguingly interesting history of Indonesia we were taught at the school. The Dutch had to hand the reigns of sovereignty to the Indonesians and leave, as much as they would have liked to prolong their stay. Secondly, we learnt then that there always comes a time when colonial governments had to leave their territories or acquisitions one day with examples of independence struggles in other parts of the world.
Michael Somare’s name was on the airwaves when radios covered the Territory very well and very widely. I thought then what an opportunity to see this man in the House and hear everything that was being reported and attributed to him, from the horse’s mouth.
I joined the pre-independence House of Assembly on 6 March 1969. I saw Michael Somare for the first time on the floor of the House on that same day I arrived on a TAA F27 flight from Kieta to Port Moresby. It was an acquaintance with my first job that would put me in eye contact with the angry young man from Sepik representing his people on the floor of the House as he spoke his mind.
The ensuing years would put me in professional contact with Somare as Chief Minister, Prime Minister as well as Leader of Opposition as I progressed in my parliamentary service career in the service of the country’s national parliamentarians.
My first impressions, seeing and interpreting for members on the floor, of the man who became Chief and our first Prime Minister and the father of the nation was this. Most of his questions to the official members who represented the colonial administration and in most of the debate in the House Michael Somare dwelled mostly on national matters and interests than on the interest of the Province he represented. This was in contrast to the parochial, and quite rightly, of questions and discussions by most of the members in the House concerning their electorates.
Sir Michael assumed the national mantra and dwelled in all-encompassing metaphors about a country he envisioned very early in his political bits and pieces and, of course, a country he would lead to independence and become its first Prime Minister.
The Chief spoke, argued and questioned vehemently about the inevitability of independence. In full sight of members looking down from the interpreter’s booths in the House of Assembly I thought then that the man who represented my own Province, Paul Lapun was in the right company with a man who spoke his mind, who articulated more than anyone what he saw and wanted for Papua New Guinea. Somare the member for Sepik, leader of Pangu Party and later Chief Minister and, of course, first Prime Minister expressed and exuded confidence on his feet and chose his interjections well when he was not on his feet.
Michael Thomas Somare grew into politics not just as an angry young man but led with his vision of a country he would later lead at its helm as a determined, confident and self-assured former teacher and broadcast journalist turned a visionary politician of his own generation and past his generation.
All of us that saw him on his feet in those early years revered and respected him. He was fearless in a House stacked with official members who represented senior posts in the Australian colonial administration. But as we would do in our cultures he respected and gave way to others so that he would also listen to responses.
Somare had a solid backing and foundation of like-minded men with him and around him. He was masterful in brokering Pangu’s successful coalition with PPP under Julius Chan at the time. Despite the political rift it was always heartening to see the two remained close friends in and out of politics.
It was Sir Michael Somare as Prime Minister that approved a new Parliament House at Waigani. Importantly and most significantly it was his decision and commitment that gave PNG a new House that symbolised our fledgeling democracy at the highest level of politics and governance. And too that the House embodied many cultural symbols and values representing the diversity of the country. Sir Michael was determined that every toea spent in building the House had to come wholly from the country’s national budget.
Writing this now from memory, this was a long journey but one I would say has paid dividends when I chose at high school’s end in 1968 a career in Parliament ruffled in no small part by a combination of curiosity and desire to see an angry young man and his political and his angry ‘antics’ which made their mark in the House. The colonial administration couldn’t help but take a lot of notice of Somare soon after he entered politics in 1967.
My refrain to my tribute is this. Little did I know that in November 1984, Sir Michael as Prime Minister, through his Departmental head late Andrew Yauieb, at recess during a meeting sent word that if I was ready the Cabinet would formalise its decision for my appointment as Clerk. I nodded I was. I was appointed Clerk of the Parliament on 8 November 1984 and served while Sir Michael served twice more as Prime Minister until I left in November 1993.
Thank you for the opportunity to know you and serve you. I thank you for knowing your service to the country and the legacy you have left will take much more than umpteen chapters of one or two books and more than a handful of people to write and tell.
The modern political history of PNG is so much also about the political journey and history of one Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare. Like a candle you grew from a flicker to a national light that made everyone realise arguing for independence was not evil or risky but inevitable.
My heartfelt condolences to Lady Veronica and the family and relatives in their period of bereavement.
Rest, Rest in Peace.
PHOTO: As Secretary-General of Inter-Parliamentary Union PNG Branch, I asked the Chief and Sir Noel Levi to represent PNG Parliament and the country at the IPU in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1986. I made the choice to give the Chief time off after he lost the prime ministership in the House.
It was a well-deserved break from the high office in another role on the parliamentary world stage where he delivered a speech on PNG’s parliamentary status in the region and the world. It gave me an opportunity to chat and mingle with the Chief outside the workplace, and Sir Noel Levi and Sir Barry Holloway who were close to the Chief.
The following Public Health Measures are issued as a response to the exponential rise in confirmed Covid-19 cases in Bougainville.
ABG #Covid19 Public Health Committee : 14 new Covid 19 reported on Saturday 28 Feb- ARoB total cases at 23
If you have Covid-19 symptoms such as fever, dry cough, sore throat or shortness of breath, call toll-free : self isolation at home and call ABG toll free number 74460830
Pursuant to the Ministerial Directive issued by Hon. Raymond Masono, MHR, Health Minister dated 26 February, 2021, as Secretary Health, and Chairman of the Bougainville Covid-19 Public Health Committee, I hereby issue the Public Health Measure No. 02 of 2021.
1. The clinical medical officers within Covid-19 Rapid Response Team will step up compulsory Covid-19 contact tracing tests within regional health facilities of Arawa, Buka and Buin.
2. Swabs will be done on any patients who exhibit Influenza Like Illness (ILIs), simple cough, pneumonia, and Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI) when attended to at the regional health facilities at Buka, Arawa and Buin, and based on referrals from District Health facilities.
3. All Covid-19 Medical Clearance Certificate issued by recognised public and private Medical Officers as compulsory requirement for entry into Bougainville through air and sea ports is hereby lifted.
4. A GeneXpert or Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test will be conducted at points of entry for both inbound and outbound passengers who exhibit Influenza Like Illness (ILIs), simple cough, pneumonia, and Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI) and a body temperature above 37 Degrees Celsius.
5. The role of the Gazetted National Dep’t of Health Quarantine Officer is hereby affirmed consistent with the Quarantine Act 1953 to continue routine quarantine checks at points of entry, and maintain food and safety standards inspection as part of the ‘Niupla Pasin’ protocols.
6. As part of the Covid-19 Public Health Measures the following must be observed and adhered to by all persons at schools, churches, sea ports, airports, business houses, work places, social clubs, restaurants, public parks and markets, towns, and other public gathering spaces:
6.1. Social distancing of 1metre – 2metres,
6.2. Mandatory body temperature checks,
6.3. Wearing of face masks or shields,
6.4. Hand washing facilities and resources,
6.5. Covid-19 awareness materials.
7. In the event of confirmed community transmission within an education institution in AROB, the Bougainville Education Board working in consultation with the Covid-19 Public Health Committee, will suspend teaching and learning in targeted school(s) pursuant to Section 57, subsection 1(b), of Bougainville Education Act 2013.
8. Consistent with Public Health Measure No. 07, alternative modes of study such as home study, distance learning, online learning, and other learning approaches be recommended by respective schools or institutions for the affected students.
9. With evidence of high prevalence rate of community transmission, all travellers between rural and urban constituencies are hereby advised to practice home isolation to prevent further spread of the Covid-19 infection.
10. Departmental Heads, Business Houses, Town Managers, and other responsible authorities to be notified by Chief Secretary or Secretary Health in consultation with Chief of Bougainville Police Service if no compliance with Covid-19 Public Health Measures.
11. All Urban Community Governments in three (3) Regions (North, Central, South) to take a lead in managing public health, water, sanitation and hygiene measures in four (4) main town of Buka, Kokopau, Arawa, and Buin).
12. Alcohol consumption to be regulated under the Community Government Act 2016 and Liquor Act 1963 consumption regulations and laws. Directives could be issued by the Chief Secretary in consultation with Secretary Community Government and Chief of Bougainville Police Service for enforcement.
13. The Motor Traffic Act 1950, and relevant regulations in the land transport sector will be enforced by the Bougainville Police Service through its Traffic Division to ensure there is no overcrowding, and other related traffic related offences.
14. All domestic vessels may berth at the ports of entry in Buka and Loloho, Kieta, and Kangu Ports to allow for routine quarantine checks. No shipping crews be allowed to disembark the ships without proper quarantine checks.
15. Pursuant to Public Health Measure No. 14, all foreign vessels must still be cleared at anchorage.
16. All small crafts moving between nearby Maritime Provinces and Bougainville must comply with endorsed Covid-19 public health measures.
17. In the event of lack of compliance with the Ministerial Directives and Public Health Measures, the Bougainville Police Service under its community policing program will intervene to ensure peace, order, and stability within the three (3) regions consistent with the Police Act 1998, Summary Offences Act 1977, Criminal Code Act 1974, and other related law enforcement Act to ensure compliance and adherence to the Quarantine and public health protocols.
All other relevant public health measures issued by the Ministry of Health on 22 January, 2021, and 29 December, 2020 remains enforceable.
Official Joint Media Statement of the Joint Supervisory Body Meeting in Arawa, Bougainville on Friday 05 February 2021, by Co-Chairs Hon. James Marape, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea and Hon. Ishmael Toroama, MHR, President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea Hon. James Marape and President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville Hon. Ishmael Toroama, on February 5 met at the Joint Supervisory Body meeting.
In the meeting the two leaders reaffirmed their joint commitment to the implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
In his opening remarks, Prime Minister James Marape acknowledged that both governments had taken a long break from progressing discussions since the last JSB meeting in March 2020 due to the global pandemic.
However, he thanked the Autonomous Bougainville Government for the patience showed and acknowledged all technical officials for maintaining consistent dialogue on both sides.
Prime Minister Marape said that the national government recognizes the referendum choice of the people of Bougainville, and that the two governments must continue to use the Bougainville Peace Agreement as its main guide while on this peace process.
He announced his government’s commitment to have the joint consultations commence in the first quarter of this year, and reaffirmed his commitment to pursue the path as outlined in the 2001 Bougainville Peace Agreement, which should eventually see National Parliament dealing with the Referendum result.
President Ishmael Toroama in his remarks acknowledged the Prime Minister and his delegation, and described the National Government’s commitment to Bougainville as very strong.
He said that there is great anticipation from the people of Bougainville on the 97.7% vote and much needs to be done to actualize this on both sides. The two leaders discussed on a total of nine agenda items.
Key of which was the Post Referendum Consultation Framework where the two leaders agreed to have the first joint consultation meeting on the referendum result on the 4th-5th March 2021 in Kokopo, East New Britain Province.
The Leaders also resolved through the JSB to formally accept the recent Joint Communique as the roadmap to consultations on the outcome of the Bougainville Referendum. On the Economic and Investment Summit, the leaders acknowledged the preparatory work done so far, and accepted the recommendation to have the Summit held from 5th to 6th May 2021 in Arawa, Central Bougainville.
On Fisheries matters, the JSB resolved to prioritize creation of investment in the fisheries sector to generate revenue for Bougainville, and also to further explore the development of a Tuna Cannery in Bougainville.
The meeting also considered other key issues such as the SME funding, establishment of Foreign Development Offices in Bougainville, taxation and revenue matters and other outstanding financial issues including National Governments commitment to retire fully the K621million outstanding RDG and the K100million a year Special Infrastructure Funds.
The leaders agreed that the next meeting of the Joint Supervisory Body will take place in June 2021, and a third JSB meeting to be held in December 2021.
In appreciation of the continued peace between our Governments and our people as enabled by the Bougainville Peace Agreement, we, in our humility, praise and acknowledge that our Lord is above all and that this Resolution is commended to God for his wisdom and guide on us his servants.
We acknowledge that this is the first JSB co-chaired by the Honourable President of Bougainville Ishmael Toroama and on that note, we recognise that this is a new era of dialogue through peace by peaceful means.
We fully pledge support to each other to continue to maintain and strengthen our relationships at all levels of leadership.
Having met today at the Sharp Memorial Centre in Arawa, we note the recommendations of the Joint Technical Team meeting of February 5, 2021 and endorse the following resolutions;
Agenda 1: Joint Communique on the Outcome of the Bougainville Referendum
The JSB notes the intentions of the Joint Communique to be the road map to the Inter-Government joint consultations and that the Joint Communique aims to create a mutual understanding and agreement on implementation of the Referendum outcome and defining next
The JSB notes that the Joint Com1nunique on the Outcome of the Bougainville Referendum was signed on January 11, 2021 at the Sir Manasupe Haus, Port Moresby by the Honourable Prime Minister James Marape, MP and the Honourable President Ishmael Toroama, MHR and witnessed by GoPNG and ABG Attorney Generals Hon. Pila Niningi and Hon. Ezekiel
The JSB accepts and endorses the Joint Communique as the road map to consultations on the Outcome of the Bougainville Referendum.
Sharp Agreement on the Dispensation of the Constitutional Requirements relating to the Process of Transfer of Functions and Powers:
In the context of the 97.7% vote for Independence by the people of Bougainville in the 2019 Bougainville Referendum;
The JSB notes the explanation of the ABG on the intent of the ‘Sharp Agreement on the Dispensation on the Constitutional Requirements relating to the Transfer of Functions and Powers to fast track the process under Section 290 of the National
The JSB notes that the ABG has provided to the GoPNG State Solicitors the document on the Sharp Agreement and notes that the GoPNG State Solicitors have yet to provide legal feedback on the document hence the JSB recommends that a timeframe of two weeks is accorded to provide legal clearance on behalf of the National
The JSB accepts the Sharp Agreement on the Dispensation of the Constitutional Requirements relating to the Process of Transfer of Functions and Powers and directs that the legal clearance on behalf of the National Government is completed within the timeframe and that the ‘Sharp Agreement’ is signed no earlier than 19th February and no later than 26th February 2021, before the commencement of the Inter-Government Joint Consultations in 4th and 5thMarch,
Agenda 2: Bougainville Economic and Investment Summit
The JSB acknowledges the JTT recommendations and endorses that Bougainville Economic and Investment Summit be held from 5th to 6th May, 2021 in Arawa, Central
The JSB cautions that the venue be considered carefully as the JSB expects that the venue must be sufficient to cater for the large number of stakeholders to the Bougainville Economic and Investment
Agenda 3: BCL Shares
The JSB acknowledges the work in progress on the transfer of BCL shares to ABG’s Bougainville Minerals Limited,
The JSB endorses the work in progress brief on the transfer of BCL
The JSB emphasises that lead agencies responsible for this agenda timeframe the transfer of shares and report to the JSB the progress of this
Genuine in our intentions for sustained peace between us, we endorse that our official statements delivered at the opening and closing of this meeting and all records of discussions and notes in this meeting is an integral part of this meeting.
We conclude by reaffirming that ‘man can make decisions but God has the last say, with this affirmation, we leave all resolutions reached here today in the care of our God.
Press statement from the office of the president on the issue of the Panguna Mine re-opening.
The idea of Caballus operating a mine on Bougainville has long been shelved after their failed attempt to co-sponsor the mining amendments with the former Momis led ABG.
Let me make it clear that the current ABG under my Presidency is not colluding with Caballus, RTZ, Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) or any landowner group to redevelop the Panguna Mine at this time.
Statements by companies or landowner groups with a vested interest in Panguna who claim to be working with the current ABG are false; we are not backing any company or any landowner group to reopen the mine.
My government is committed protecting landowner rights from undue influence by persons wishing to solicit favours from the Autonomous Bougainville Government in an attempt to reopen the mine.
Any company wishing to develop Bougainville’s mineral resources be it Panguna or the exploration of a green field site must come through the proper channels.
Bougainville has a Mining Act that governs the exploitation of our mineral resources, any parties wishing to be involved in the mining industry on Bougainville must comply with the laws of the land.
As it stands there is a moratorium in place over Panguna as well as the surrounding areas around the proximity of the mine.
The Panguna Mine remains a very sensitive issue on Bougainville and parties wishing to reopen it must maintain a sense of decorum that respects the land, the landowners and the ABG.
We cannot continue to make unfounded claims that are based on promises from the previous regime and its band of leaders and public servants who sought to manipulate the people of Bougainville and wantonly exploit its resources.
I urge leaders from the past government as well as the current ABG to refrain from making unsubstantiated claims over the future of the mine at this time.
Let us be frank in our dealings and be considerate of the welfare of all our people on Bougainville. It is high time we stopped using our Independence aspirations as a bargaining chip to further our personal agenda.