Bougainville Referendum News: Bougainville: hard choices looming for Australia? (part II)

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Differences could arise in a number of ways but at the more serious end of the range, possibilities include either a refusal by the PNG Parliament to recognise a pro-independence referendum outcome, or a failure by Papua New Guinea to agree to a referendum going ahead at all.”

Author James Batley worked in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and in AusAID, between 1984 and 2014: Originally published in the Strategist

In my earlier post I argued that, notwithstanding the strong legal underpinning of the 2001 Bougainville Peace Agreement, it’s possible that Bougainville and Waigani may be on a collision course. What would such a collision mean for Australia?

In the event that a referendum were held and clearly favoured independence with the outcome subsequently ratified by the PNG Parliament—accompanied by an orderly transition—Australia would have little choice but to accept the result. But while this is a possible outcome, it’s by no means the most likely scenario.

Far more likely is a situation in which Papua New Guinea and Bougainville find themselves at odds. Differences could arise in a number of ways but at the more serious end of the range, possibilities include either a refusal by the PNG Parliament to recognise a pro-independence referendum outcome, or a failure by Papua New Guinea to agree to a referendum going ahead at all.

To this, it might be countered that Article XIV of the PNG Constitution includes a range of dispute resolution provisions including through the courts. Yet this ignores the fact that any differences that may arise are far more likely to be political differences than matters of interpretation that are amenable to mediation or judicial resolution.

In either of the disputed situations outlined above Australia would be faced with difficult choices. Of course, Bougainville isn’t Australia’s responsibility, but Australia has a stake in Bougainville’s future, including its relationship with Papua New Guinea. Australia doesn’t have the luxury of not having a view on these questions. In any serious dispute, both sides would look to Australia for support.

Whatever the legal niceties, the PNG government would expect to have the greater claim on Australian support, both on historical grounds and in the light of more recent experience—you-scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-yours (i.e. Manus) grounds. For their part Bougainvillean groups would point to Australia’s role in acting as midwife to the BPA back in 2000.

In any such scenario a range of Australian interests would be thrown into the balance: Australia’s stake in Papua New Guinea’s long-term security and stability; the state of the bilateral relationship; the risks of renewed violence on Bougainville; the implications of any action (or inaction) on Australia’s part for its broader role in the region.

Many decisions are yet to be taken by the parties themselves, and many variables remain in play. While there are the beginnings of discussion in Bougainville on possible transition scenarios, there’s no requirement for a referendum to be held before 2020, so any breakdown in the process—assuming one does occur—might be years away. So it’s wise not to take the scenario-building too far.

For Australia, however, the key point is this: Downer’s 2000 formula (Australia would ‘accept any settlement negotiated by the parties’) has served successive governments well over the past 15 years when all parties could sincerely declare themselves committed to the BPA. It’s a good formula, and if anything it’s been reinforced by the regular commitment to honouring the BPA included in Ministerial Forum communiques. That said, enough risks are now apparent to suggest that this formula may be reaching its use-by date. Events beyond Australia’s control may require Australia to declare its hand one way or the other.

None of this will be news to Australian officials engaged in PNG policy and, given her personal interest, it’s safe to assume that Julie Bishop understands what’s at stake. That doesn’t make the choices that may be faced any easier.

Much of the above analysis renders the Bougainville issue down to a binary choice: independence or not. Might there be another way of framing the issue? It’s possible that the parties themselves could think of a ‘third way’, even if no such options have been canvassed publicly so far. Even if the PNG and Bougainville governments find themselves seriously at odds on the referendum issue over the course of the next five years, it shouldn’t be assumed that they wouldn’t be able to come up with creative solutions. A worst case scenario isn’t inevitable or even the most likely outcome.

This is where Australian diplomacy could play a role. In 2000, Alexander Downer moved the peace process forward by helping the parties see beyond the immediate binary choices they felt confronted with at the time. The BPA may not have solved the Bougainville question definitively, but it has given the people of Bougainville fifteen years of peace.

It may yet turn out that the key contribution that Australian diplomacy can make is to help the parties see the future as something other than an exclusive yes/no choice.

New Bougainville Government : Momis appoints seven members to the executive council

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The new parliament will be required to prepare the autonomous Papua New Guinea region for a vote on possible independence, to be held before 2020.

Mr Momis says a critical element of this process is to ensure the region’s economy becomes viable and this has prompted the new portfolio.

“We want to put a lot of emphasis on the responsibility of the autonomous government to raise revenue and I think one of the best ways of doing that would be to have a ministry wholly and solely responsible for economic generation of revenue for economic development.”

The President of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, Grand Chief Dr John Lawrence Momis has announced seven Members of the Bougainville House of Representatives to the Bougainville Executive Council.

WATCH EMTV News report here

The new Ministers join Vice President Patrick Nisira, who is the new Minister for Referendum, Peace, and Veterans Affairs on the BEC.

Six of the Ministers have been appointed under Section 81 (3) of the Bougainville Constitution on the Recommendations of the three Regional Committees of the House of Representatives with the seventh Minister being the nominee of the four women Members of the House unders Section 80 (1) (c).

The new Ministers are;

Hon. Albert Punghau (Motuna Huyono)                    Finance

Hon. Jacob Tooke (Baubake)                                     Community Development

Hon. Nicholas Darku (North Nasioi)                         Primary Industries

Hon. Robin Wilson (Terra)                                        Mining

Hon. Raymond Masono (Atolls)                                Public Service

Hon. Fidelis Semoso (Tsitalato)                                Economic Development

Hon. Josephine Getsi (Peit)                                       Community Development

President Momis retains the Planning as well as Inter-government Relations Portfolios.

“As a result of these appointments, there are five Ministerial Portfolios yet to be filled, I expect to be in a position to announce the remaining Ministers later this week and I will also announce their portfolios,” President Momis said.

“While I have confidence in the talents of my new Ministers, I want to make it clear that I expect a high standard of performance from them,” President Momis said.

President Momis added that he has put each of his Ministers on notice and that he will review their performance after the new government’s first six months in office and that any Minister who has not performed to a satisfactory level will be removed.

The President said his next task will be to revitalize the Bougainville Public Service and to ensure it is lean and starts to work efficiently to carry out its prerogatives.

He said the Bougainville Public Service will undergo serious changes to its structure in an effort to save on costs and the mismanagement of public funds and government assets.

He offered that his government will clamp down on corruption and added that with his cabinet finalized the ABG will now move to give the best possible service to the people of Bougainville.

 

Bougainville News : New speaker of house Simon Pentanu hits the ground running

Swearing In

“In building and strengthening the Parliament through you as members, the Speaker’s role in the Bougainville Parliament is not one of just a Presiding Officer or Chairman of meetings of the House. I will call on all my previous experience as a parliamentary officer and Clerk of a the Parliament of a successful sovereign nation, an experience that extends over 25 years.  With this experience and background I am confident this places in a position to ensure that the management and administration of the parliamentary service is above board and that everything we do is transparent.”

Simon Pentanu Speaker, House of Representatives Autonomous Bougainville Government 2015-2020

Read full speech HERE

Picture above: ABG speaker Mr. Simon Pentanu was welcome by his Pokpok people when he returned home. The ceremony was very significant and he was accompanied by member for North Nasioi, Hon. Nicholas Darku, Hon. M. Kokiai member for central regional women and Noah Doko rep, Mr. Michael Pariu.

In this article Mr Pentanu thanks the outgoing  ABG Speaker for the last seven years, ANDREW MIRIKI and passes on his best wishes to the Port Moresby Bougainville Association celebrating the Anniversary of ABG (see below)

SPEAKER LANDS RUNNING

By Aloysius Laukai

The newly elected ABG House of Representatives Speaker, SIMON PENTANU has started working on strengthening the ABG House of Representatives.

In his first Broadcast on New Dawn FM, MR. PENTANU said that the time of partying is over and that he was now ready to do his work in strengthening Parliamentary Services to support the Government of the day.

simon New Dawn

He said that his office will prepare for the induction of members of the ABG to make sure they know what their role and responsibilities are as members of the ABG House.Pentanu said that his office will support the members to understand their work so that they can properly deliver as required by their constituencies.

He said that his office will do more in strengthening the members by carrying out educational programs to support the members work.

The ABG speaker also thanked the ABG House for having faith in him and elected him as the Speaker of the 3rd ABG House.

Meanwhile, the ABG Parliamentary services staff prepared a lunch to welcome the new Speaker at the House of Representatives.

This completed the one-week of running around since the Inauguration of the 3rd ABG House on Monday this week.

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The outgoing ABG Speaker for the last seven years, ANDREW MIRIKI  officially handed all office keys of the ABG Parliament house to the newly elected speaker, SIMON PENTANU.

The brief but very significant ceremony was witnessed by the Acting clerk, EDWIN KENEHATA and his deputy at the Speaker’s office.

Before handing off the keys, MR. MIRIKI gave a full brief of what he had done and what he could not do in the last seven years.

He also outlined some programs that the new Speaker need to continue with example the Twinning arrangement between the New South Wales Parliament and the ABG house. MIRKI said that he was happy to handover to the new Speaker to continue with the work and also promised to support the speaker if he is needed.

He said that he was now packing up and would leave the Speaker’s house in Kubu in four weeks to allow the new speaker to move and carry out his work.

New Dawn FM understands that this was a rare ceremony as most people leave office without handing over to the successor as they do not accept the change

Message from Simon Pentanu Speaker House of Representatives Bougainville.

On the occasion of Port Moresby Bougainville Association celebrations to mark Third Anniversary of ABG.

It’s a beautiful day in Bougainville. I hope it is too in Port Moresby where PBA is hosting its premier event where Bougainvilleans, with families and friends, get together today to mark this Third Anniversary of our ABG and our current political status as an Autonomous Region.

PBA is the natural facilitator of these events with the support our tertiary students, our women and those that always volunteer to assist the PBA Executive. I know that the message from this Executive has been: “PBA will not do it for you, we will do it with you.”That was the basis of the spirit of success in 2014. I’m sure it is the same spirit for AROB Day 2015.

I am proud to have been associated with the PBA, in particular with the members of the present Executive. I will continue to support the Association in my role as Speaker. I am confident we will build a closer consultative relationship with PBA through which your contributions will be appreciated and valued towards a common Good for all. No matter the distances we are all together. I wish you all a successful Day of Peaceful and Happy Celebrations. Simon Pentanu Speaker House of Representatives

Bougainville 2015 Election update: Voting near completion as counting gets underway

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Acting Electoral Commissioner to Bougainville Mr George Manu speaks at the media conference held today Wednesday May 20, 2015.

(This is the Press statement from the commissioner).

Welcome and thank you for attending today’s media conference for the 2015 ABG General Election.

Today, I am pleased to report that polling has been completed in 31 of our 33 constituencies.

Polling is yet to be completed in just two of the more than 730 polling places that operated during this election.

  •  There is one polling place in Tasman, in the Atolls, that is yet to poll. Polling has been delayed in that location due to weather and logistical challenges; however, I am advised that it is anticipated that polling will be held there in the next couple of days.
  •   Polling is also underway today at one polling place in Kabaku in North Nasioi and is expected to finish there today.

Throughout this election we have had 218 polling teams operating across all of Bougainville and 5 provinces on mainland PNG.

I would like to thank the dedication and professionalism of all polling teams and the 19 Returning Officers.

They have overcome the many logistical challenges that we face when providing access to voting for the more than 172,000 enrolled Bougainvilleans.

Throughout this election we have achieved a number of things for the first time.

  • This election is the first election in Bougainville led by Bougainvilleans for Bougainvilleans. I cannot over emphasise the significance of this.
  • This election is also the first in Bougainville where we have established regional electoral offices in Arawa and Buin, bringing the administration of the election closer to the people.
  • Another first is that my office implemented out of constituency voting for Bougainvilleans Inside Bougainville. Polling places were established at central locations in Buka, Arawa and Buin to facilitate this. These Special Polling Places, established under our Elections Act, increased the opportunity for voters to exercise their democratic right to vote.
  • In this election we also increased the opportunity for Bougainvilleans Outside Bougainville on mainland PNG to participate in the election by providing voting service in Port Moresby, Lae, Goroka, Madang and Rabaul.
  • And finally, there was the enhanced security features of the ballot papers. This is the first time for PNG, and quite possibly the Pacific, that ballot papers with such advanced security features have been used.

What we have achieved is a great stepping stone towards better, stronger elections in the future. Of course every election is not without its challenges.

My office will continue to investigate all reports and complaints relating to this election as they come to light. This includes reports of people’s names not being found on the Final Electoral Roll and cases of voter or candidate misbehaviour.

As I announced yesterday, in light of credible reports received that some people were seeking to abuse the Special Voting Service for Bougainvilleans Inside Bougainville by attempting to vote more than once and by attempting to remove the indelible ink, polling at the Special Polling Places has been brought to a close ahead of schedule.

I took this step to safeguard the integrity of the election.

My office will be following up on the reports of multiple voting and I will be requesting assistance from the Bougainville Police Service.

I wish to thank the vast majority of Bougainvilleans who worked cooperatively with polling officials and the Bougainville Police Service to make this election, free, safe and fair.

In terms of next steps, OBEC will conduct a Training-of-Trainers for Returning Officers on counting procedures. This training will be held in Buka on Friday 22 May. All Returning Officers will travel in from their regions to attend and they will then return to their regions to train their count centre staff.

Then on Saturday 23 May OBEC will sort the envelopes from the Special Voting Services. Envelopes containing ballot papers cast through Special Voting Services, both for Bougainvilleans Inside Bougainville and Bougainvilleans Outside Bougainville, will be sorted according to their constituency.

The sorting of envelopes will be conducted in the full view of scrutineers and electoral observers. Envelopes will be sorted by region and constituency – there will be no opening of envelopes.

Sorting of envelopes for Bougainvilleans Outside Bougainville will take place in Buka, while sorting of envelopes for Bougainvilleans Inside Bougainville will take place in the three regional count centres at Buka, Arawa and Buin.

OBEC is committed to full transparency and I invite scrutineers and electoral observers to witness the process from beginning to end.

At the end of the SVS sorting, envelopes will be placed in ballot boxes, resealed, and transported with police escort to their respective regional count centres.

In addition to the three regional count centres in Buka, Arawa and Buin, there will be a Presidential count centre in Buka. That is where the counting for the Presidential seat will take place. To allow for a faster presidential count, the first step of the Scrutiny at each of the three regional count centres on Tuesday 26 May will be to identify misplaced ballots that may have been deposited in the wrong ballot box.

I will provide more detailed information on all of this over the coming days.

Thank you again for attending today’s briefing. I will hold my next media briefing at 2pm Bougainville time on Monday 25 May here in the OBEC Media Briefing Room.

PNG BAN ON AUSTRALIAN’S TRAVEL TO BOUGAINVILLE – Momis says honour the Bougainville Peace Agreement

 

 

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“I call on the Foreign Minister to lift the ban immediately, and to separately take steps to resolve the PNG dispute with Australia. There is no basis for the PNG Government to be harming Bougainville as a way of dealing with its misunderstanding with Australia.

“I also call on the Foreign Minister to work with the ABG to ensure that we can use our foreign affairs powers under the Peace Agreement.

“I also seek an assurance from the Minister that in future he will not take unilateral action in relation to foreign citizen’s travel to Bougainville. Instead, he must recognise Bougainville’s autonomy, and only take any such action at the request, or with the agreement, of the ABG

Grand Chief Dr John L. Momis

President John L. Momis today made a statement on the dispute between PNG and Australia over the PNG announcement of a ban on travel to Bougainville by Australians. The ban was imposed in response to Australia’s announcement about establishing a diplomatic office in Bougainville.

The President said the ban on Australians travelling to Bougainville would only cause problems for PNG, Bougainville, and Australia.

He said: “Australia is spending K120 million per year on assistance for Bougainville. It supports development building the capacity of the public service of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG). A ban on Australians travelling to Bougainville will severely slow delivery of important assistance that is helping Bougainville in many ways.

“It is therefore vitally important that this dispute between PNG and Australia is resolved as soon as possible. The dispute can readily be resolved if both governments honour the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

“Australia knows that under the Agreement, Bougainville’s leaders accepted that Bougainville is part of PNG unless the referendum process results in a change. So unless or until that happens, Australia must of course respect PNG sovereignty.

“I understand that what Australia proposes is a limited increase in the full-time office it has had in Buka since about 2007. Australia has had discussions with PNG and the ABG about doing this. But the announcement in the Australian Treasurer’s budget speech last week made it sound as if a major diplomatic office is to be established

That is not the case. Australia should publicly clarify what is little more than a misunderstanding.

“For its part, PNG should remember that the Peace Agreement provides Bougainville with high autonomy, now guaranteed by the PNG Constitution.

The travel ban has been imposed without a request from or agreement of the ABG. This is a serious breach of at least the spirit of the Peace Agreement.

“The Agreement also clearly gives the ABG control of access of foreigners to Bougainville.

Under it the ABG can propose names of foreigners to be placed on the visa warning list, to prevent their entry to PNG and Bougainville. All applications for work permits and employment visas for people wanting to go to Bougainville are required to be referred to the ABG.

“But ABG requests to the National Government to set up the necessary administrative machinery for the ABG to exercise these powers have so far been ignored. So it seriously concerns me that PNG now wants to control travel to Bougainville, when it does nothing to allow the ABG to exercise its clear powers to control foreigner’s access to Bougainville.”

The President said that he wanted to discuss the travel ban with Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs as a matter of urgency.

He said: “I call on the Foreign Minister to lift the ban immediately, and to separately take steps to resolve the PNG dispute with Australia. There is no basis for the PNG Government to be harming Bougainville as a way of dealing with its misunderstanding with Australia.

“I also call on the Foreign Minister to work with the ABG to ensure that we can use our foreign affairs powers under the Peace Agreement.

“I also seek an assurance from the Minister that in future he will not take unilateral action in relation to foreign citizen’s travel to Bougainville. Instead, he must recognise Bougainville’s autonomy, and only take any such action at the request, or with the agreement, of the ABG

Grand Chief Dr John L. Momis

 

Bougainville Elections 2015 : Deciding our future only 9 days to go

Voting

 

By Aloysius Laukai Managing Editor Bougainville News International -Subscribe for email delivery

Polling in 24 of the 33 seats in the Autonomous Bougainville Government’s Parliament were completed today Saturday May 16th, 2015.

This means only 9 Constituencies are yet to complete polling before end of polling on May 26th.

This also means that the remaining areas must be covered in the next nine days.

This was revealed by the Acting Bougainville Electoral Commissioner, GEORGE MANU this afternoon in his daily press conferences.MANU said that despite the hiccups at the start of Polling he was happy that polling is progressing well.

By this afternoon polling have been completed in many areas.

In North Bougainville, polling has been completed in 12 CONSTITUENCIES of HAKU,PEIT,HALIA,HAGOGOHE,TONSU,TSITALATO,SELAU,TEUA,MAHARI,

TAONITA TINPUTZ and TAONITA TEOP.

In South polling has been completed in twelve Constituencies of RAMU,KONNOU,LULE, BAUBAKE,MAKIS,KOPII,MOTUNA HUYONO, BABA,LATO,BOLAVE and TOROKINA.

The Commissioner said that due to communication difficulties receiving updates for Central continues to be challenging at times.

Polling for Monday will take place at RATERI in the Rao Constituency whilst team 99 For IORO will poll at SIREDONSI village, team 111 for South Nasioi will poll at ROREINANG and in KOKODA team 125 will poll at KOROMIRA.

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NEWDAWNPIC of George Manu by Aloysius Laukai

The Bougainville Electoral Commissioner, GEORGE MANU today commented on the 2015 ABG Election Common Roll.

He told a media conference in Buka this afternoon that significant resources are required at an Institutional, Human Resourcing and Infrastructure level to maintain an accurate and comprehensive Common Roll and this remains a challenge for Bougainville.MANU said that it is a legal obligation of every Bougainvillean to enrol as a voter and it is the obligation of the Bougainville Electoral Commissioner, through the Returning Officers to provide that facility to the people.

He said that a good roll depends on the involvement by the people MANU said that through the Returning Officers, Office of the Bougainville Electoral Commission undertook an active enrolment drive between September 2014 and February 2015.

The drive resulted in a Preliminary Roll with about 11,500 additional voters.

The Preliminary Roll was put on public display for about two weeks and at the end of the public scrutiny another 8,800  voters were added to the roll.

The Electoral Commissioner said that the final Electoral Roll used for the 2015 ABG Election totals 172,797 voters, which is an increase of about 20,000 extra voters from the previous roll.

He said that his office received funding for the 2015 ABG General Elections only few weeks before the roll closed on the issue of the writs on March 27th, 2015.

Bougainville Elections News: Today 11 May we start the voting to decide Bougainville’s future

 

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Yesterday  was the final day for potential politicians to do more convincing to be voted in! Your vote is not just a vote but has value to choose who our next leaders and know that Bougainville’s political fate will depend entirely on the leaders we choose this week.

However, regardless of whoever wins the presidential seat, whether its John Momis, Sam Akoitai, Ishmael Toroama, Sam Kauona or Rueben Siara and many others representing the Regional Women, and the Constituencies seats.

I’m sure they all have our Bougainville’s future at their hearts interests. And each of them wants to show that they can lead and defend our political interests by serving our people.

Whether we like it or not, at end of the day we have to comply and work together for Bougainville’s future.

Geraldine Paul (see her full article below )

The polling period will fall between May 11 and May 25. Counting will commence immediately after the polling period from May 26 to June 7 and the writs will be returned the next day, June 8, 2015

Polling booths will open at 8am and closes at 4pm . Polling will be held in 215 locations both within the 33 constituencies in Bougainville and in the five provinces in the country including NCD, Lae, Rabaul, Madang and Goroka.

This election starting today Monday 11 May among Bougainville’s estimated 300,000 people brings the issue closer to decision. The Bougainville government’s new president and legislature will hold a promised referendum some time during their five-year term on whether the island stays in PNG or goes independent.

John Momis, who is the current ABG president and favourite for re-election against eight other candidates, is adding another explosive issue. After getting a new mining law passed in March this year, he is pushing for the reopening of the Panguna copper mine that was the original cause of the civil war. With only 11 per cent of his government’s budget coming from local revenue, the rest mostly from Port Moresby grants, the mines are the only prospective source of revenue to make either autonomy or independence a reality.

FROM Australia’s Saturday Paper Hamish McDonald

In his first couple of years as foreign minister, Alexander Downer had a lot of bombs explode in his portfolio.

Among them was the 1997 Sandline affair in which Papua New Guinea’s government brought in South African and other mercenaries to try to end the bitter conflict on Bougainville Island that had closed the giant Rio Tinto gold and copper mine there since 1989.

An army mutiny in Port Moresby scotched that idea, a truce with the Bougainville Revolutionary Army followed, and talks held in a New Zealand army camp led to a peace agreement in 2001 that set up an Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG). Throughout the talks, New Zealand sources say, Downer was out to prevent what he called the “Balkanisation” of Australia’s strategic arc of friendly states to its immediate north-east. The Kiwis were somewhat sceptical this could be avoided. Anyone who’s read the Lloyd Jones novel Mister Pip might agree.

An election starting today Monday 11 May among Bougainville’s estimated 300,000 people brings the issue closer to decision. The Bougainville government’s new president and legislature will hold a promised referendum some time during their five-year term on whether the island stays in PNG or goes independent.

John Momis, who is the current ABG president and favourite for re-election against eight other candidates, is adding another explosive issue. After getting a new mining law passed in March this year, he is pushing for the reopening of the Panguna copper mine that was the original cause of the civil war. With only 11 per cent of his government’s budget coming from local revenue, the rest mostly from Port Moresby grants, the mines are the only prospective source of revenue to make either autonomy or independence a reality. The island has plenty of other goldmines, feverishly worked over by about 10,000 panhandlers who aren’t taxed, but it would take much longer for other, less socially burdened medium-scale mines to eventuate.

According to Anthony Regan, an ANU constitutional law professor who advises the Bougainville government, most Bougainvilleans would prefer Rio Tinto to return to Panguna, under stricter local consent and environmental provisions. “They prefer the devil they know,” he said. Whether Rio Tinto wants to spend the $US5.2 billion it estimates it will take to reopen the derelict mine is another matter.

Other interests are hovering. Momis suspects that PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill wants to buy out Rio Tinto’s 53.83 per cent shareholding in Bougainville Copper Ltd, adding it to his contentious nationalisation of BHP’s former Ok Tedi mine at the other end of the country. Momis said this would lead to a demand for immediate independence. O’Neill denies any such plans.

A new face on the scene is Anthony Johnston, of Sydney-based waste disposal firm United Resource Management (URM) and sponsor of the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles. Johnston and his old schoolmate, lawyer Ian de Renzie Duncan, have been cultivating former rebels around the mine who call themselves the Me’ekamui Government of Unity. Regan said URM’s interest appears to be in brokering the entry of a new mine operator to Panguna. At a meeting with ABG president Momis in February, which Regan also attended, Johnston and Duncan had argued that while Rio Tinto should be given first refusal, it should be given six months to make a decision. Johnston did not return calls to his Sydney office.

How will the Bougainvilleans vote in the referendum? Dark-skinned, like many of the peoples in the adjacent Solomon Islands, from whom they were separated by colonial rivalry between Germany and Britain in the 1890s, they regard the lighter-skinned people from the other parts of PNG as alien “redskins”. Efforts by Port Moresby to put resources into the ABG may have come too late to overcome bitter memories of the counterinsurgency campaigns by national police and soldiers in the 1990s. “Lack of support for the ABG from Moresby has loaded the dice towards independence,” Regan said.

So the fear of a chink opening in our belt of Melanesian buffer states could be realised. Yet there’s a sting in the peace agreement. At Downer’s urging, it left implementation of the referendum result to the PNG national parliament, contingent on disposal of weapons and development of good governance in the ABG, rather than making it automatic. Regan says there’s some legal opinion in Port Moresby the referendum can be stopped on these grounds. Any such effort, or to block the result, could reopen conflict.

Bougainvilleans accepted the compromise after Downer argued the international community would support implementation of “a free and fair referendum with a clear outcome”, Momis told his outgoing parliament ahead of the election. “The truth is that we may need to rely on international community support at that time,” he said.

FROM Geraldine Paul

Today is the final day for potential politicians to do more convincing to be voted in! Your vote is not just a vote but has value to choose who our next leaders and know that Bougainville’s political fate will depend entirely on the leaders we choose this week. However, regardless of whoever wins the presidential seat, whether its John Momis, Sam Akoitai, Ishmael Toroama, Sam Kauona or Rueben Siara and many others representing the Regional Women, and the Constituencies seats. I’m sure they all have our Bougainville’s future at their hearts interests. And each of them wants to show that they can lead and defend our political interests by serving our people. Whether we like it or not, at end of the day we have to comply and work together for Bougainville’s future.

We need to also take into account that ABG is still in its infant stage, and has a long way to go. ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’, as the saying goes… Again, having said this does not give our leaders the excuse to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again – Our chosen leaders can not AFFORD to make any more mistakes – it will be a waste and a loss of all our time, only bringing us 10 steps backward or more!

We still have outstanding issues relating to our service systems which needs attention to details – Health facility centers needs upgrading and staffs needs to be accomdated well, appreciated and compensated for the work they do. Education leaders needs to ensure teachers dont go missing from schools chasing after their pay packet only to end up leaving students unattended for days! More technical schools need to be set up or upgrade our current local technical schools to increase intakes per annum. Skills that are acquired from such institutions will go a long way.

Our police system is quite ineffective that issues are often not resolved. Too many wantokism within the adminstration which becomes a bottleneck to our justice system.

Leaders tend to forget that 99% of our population depends entirely on what they produce in their backyard garden -agricultural activity is the backbone of our people. What we need to do is tap into what people are already doing and expand it, create quality production, tap into niche markets and sell our produces! – we are only exporting Cocoa and copra products overseas, but what about vanilla, coffee, bananas, tapioka, taros and fresh vegetables, green coconut and fishing projects- these foods are growing in our land. Our mindset need to be changed, Think big and think outside the box! Think Commercial and create market opportunities!

Economic development is a must if we want to be independent, if our ordinary farmers are not financially independent – then we basically shooting ourselves in our foot. How can we expect ourselves to be independent when we are not investing in our own people to create local production!

There’s also the issues regarding the access roads which farmers have to travel through to sell their cocoa and other products , the back roads of Tinputz such as Namatoa, Pokapa, Tiobuin, and many places are in bad conditions, including the roads along Tokaino, Nakorei, Tabago, Rukauko, Wisai, Mughuai and not to mentioned acess roads along wakunai and Kieta/Kongara as well. Who’s responsibilities are they to be fixed? Do we always have to wait when the next election is around the corner for a politician to show that he or she cares and then they spend the next entire 5 years neglecting maintenance?…….

Social issues are eating us up like cancer within our societies – women and children are often not considered into decisions making although they make up our 60 or 70% of our population. Domestic violence is brewing like nobody’s business, and we still turn a blind eye, saying its none of our business- we should not be using customs and cultures as an excuse. But create a culture that says ‘No to any form of violence’ – our men folks need to own up and support women by standing up against such abuses – this cycle of violence need to be broken. We need proper services in place to support women, children and men to be helped is such situations…

Ah! Well!! Then again on the brighter side we did achieve lots of good things over the past 10 years and have definitely seen changes, some business houses being prosperous on the account of others or basically out of their own hard work. More land cruisers for our goverment officials have been purchased, hopefully this means more work and patrolling to outer stations instead of ferrying wantoks and families, which I hope not!
Our trunk roads have definitely been given attention to and the plans are in the pipeline for more upgrading, thanks to some hard working people pushing for it.
Aropa airport and the opening of BSP branch in Arawa is a success story of progress!

And I’m sure with all the ‘Bel kol’ iniatitives being carried out to resolve our past greivences, it will pave ways to reopening the mines, this will also mean more job opportunities, or more exploitations if not managed well. People that can afford to are building better homes in their villages, lifestyle is definitely changing with new technology everyday! You’re either in the boat flowing with the change or left behind with anger and blame others because you think its their fault for you being a failure…

I know! I know! this has been quite mouthful, but I thought I’d share my 2 toea thoughts and Happy Sunday to you all. May the Good Lord guide and bless us all as we decide on our future leaders by casting our vote this week, not because they bribed us with cash, but because we truly believe that they are a genuine, honest and someone with the great leadership skills to be our captain for the next 5 years, and most importantly, leaders with good intentions !!! So long every one!!

 

Bougainville Election News : 173,000 enrolled to vote in Bougainville elections

photoElections

By Aloysius Laukai

The Bougainville Electoral Commissioner, GEORGE MANU today announced the completion of the Bougainville Common role in preparation of polling that will commence on May 11th, 2015.

The Commissioner made this announcement in one of his weekly programs on NEW DAWN FM.

He praised the 2015 COMMON ROLL stating that they managed to register additional TWENTY THOUSAND eligible voters in the final roll making the final number registered to ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY THREE THOUSAND VOTERS.

MANU also announced that his office has been busy running trainings for the Electoral officials to make sure they are fully equipped for this election.

The Bougainville Electoral Commissioner also acknowledged the UN Electoral advisors for organizing training for the scrutineers.

And he called on the candidates to make sure they send some of the scrutineers for these free trainings so that they can go back and train their other scrutineers.

He said these free trainings will be organized in each of the three regions of Central, South and North Bougainville.

BALLOT PAPERS ON PRINT

Meanwhile the Bougainville Electoral Commissioner, GEORGE MANU has also announced that Ballot Papers for this elections were printed in AUSTRALIA and will be arriving in Buka next week.

He said as soon as they are in, they will be distributed to the three regional Electoral offices of Arawa, Buin and Buka. MANU said that these regional offices have been established to see the smooth distribution of ballot papers to polling boots.

He said he will make sure there is no shortage of ballot papers at any one polling location this time.MANU said that election materials such as Ballot Boxes will be arriving this week for distribution to the three distributing centres.

He said that all is set for the conducting of the 2015 ABG General elections

SAD DAY FOR THE PEOPLE OF KONNOU

The biggest constituency on Bougainville, KONNOU which is in the East coast of South Bougainville will again miss out in voting as they are not free to cast their votes in the 2015 ABG General elections.

Reports reaching New Dawn FM says that parts of Konnou that is from TABAGO Mission up to the mountain ranges have been banned for any campaign by the Commander of Meekamui in the area, DAMIAN KOIKE.

Despite these set backs the people in these areas have voted in other places other than their area in all the elections that Bougainville held after the conflict.

Reasons for the ban is not known but local chiefs are trying to negotiate with the Commander to allow the election process to be carried in these areas.