Bougainville News feature 1 of 2 : Panguna in hindsight – yes , hindsight is a wonderful thing

 

 ” Every picture tells a story. Every story a picture tells may not be a perfect story but, as another saying goes, there’s more to the picture than meets the eye. 

There is a certain poignancy about this picture – and many other images connected with the multitude of matters surrounding Panguna. 

Panguna is not merely a history of mining, minerals, money, maiming and the nastiness of the conflict. It is not only a story of lost lives, lost land and lost opportunities. 

This photograph shows a woman, leading her male counterparts in the early days of the dispute involving one group of Panguna landowners voicing, in a very public way, early warnings of what might follow.”

Article by Simon Pentanu  

Panguna is a story of many individuals and groups; of men, women and children of the forest, the valleys, the ravines, the hills and mountains, the rivers and creeks and sacred sites – all of which people called home, before mining arrived. 

Perpetua Serero and Francis Ona both passed away relatively young. The effervescent Damien Dameng – the one with reading glasses studying his notes in this photo – lost his life under dubious circumstances only in recent times. 

Francis Bitanuma with the white cap and overgrown beard in this photo, is still around, raising his voice and picking and choosing his fights but with fewer and fewer local allies in tow.

Perpetua Serero had remarkable poise and presence. Had her voice as Chairlady of a splinter Panguna Landowners Association (PLOA) been heeded when she spoke (either with or without the aid of a hand-held loud hailer), some of the fiasco and hurt amongst the landowners could well have been mitigated, if not largely avoided.

Instead, the very early feuds over Panguna over benefits accruing from the land under various leases to BCL were between landowners themselves. Only a dishonest landowner would deny this was the case.

Disputes and differences over land sharing, land use and land tenure preceded the arrival of mining in Panguna. But these were localized and tended to be confined within households, extended families and clans. Agreements were brokered to resolve issues or at least keep them to manageable levels. There were ways for everyone to move on, living and communally sharing the land, rivers, creeks, the environment and everything that more or less made life worth living and dying for. 

Differences and feuds over the benefits accruing from the mine such as RMTL (Road Mining Tailings Lease) payments and other payments added fuel to existing disputes between clans, families and relatives. Some of the disputes became vexatious with the advent of mining.

Mining catapulted Panguna women like Perpetua Serero, Cecilia Gemel and others to the forefront as they took on much more active and pronounced roles as mothers of the land in a society that is largely matrilineal. 

This photograph shows a woman, leading her male counterparts in the early days of the dispute involving one group of Panguna landowners voicing, in a very public way, early warnings of what might follow.

The significance of her message was either lost to or not taken seriously by most leaders from central Bougainville, BCL, PLOA and relevant authorities in the national Government at the time.  

That men are  on the periphery of the photo – in stark contrast to the lead role  being played by Serero at the front – wasn’t just symbolic. It was real. Her position at the front, with the support of  men such as Francis Bitanuma, Francis Ona, Damien Dameng and others was neither incidental, coincidental nor accidental. Her role at the forefront of this dispute over land was natural and logical, because in most of Bougainville it is through the women that land is inherited and passed down the generations. 

That more and more landowners became willing to front up in crowds such as this, emboldened by the willing maternal leadership of someone who stood up to carry the mantle of those that bore grievances against their own PLOA, led by men. Serero, and the landowners who stood with her, made a brave and significant statement. 

As the differences grew, the younger Panguna generation – alongside women like Serero and Gemel and the emerging, vociferous Francis Ona – turned their attention to Rio and BCL.

Increasingly they saw BCL and the old PLOA as having all the control and influence over what happened in special mining lease (SML) area. The injustice felt in not having much say weighed heavily and became a rallying point as captured in this photo.

All of us observing, reading and writing about the upheavals over Panguna, the mounting dissatisfaction, the criticism of the Bougainville Copper Agreement (BCA) and the rebellious response that shut down the giant mining operations, may find some satisfaction in the common truism that hindsight is a wonderful thing.

The BCA was a document familiar mostly to lawyers, investors and bankers and, of course, to the mining fraternity. It was not until well after the first power pylons fell, after deployment of the security forces and after the mine was closed that interest increase in reading the fine print of the BCA. Coming, as they did, from a paperless village life, many landowners and Bougainvilleans in the community at large found little compulsion to read, let alone understand and appreciate legal agreements.

When the going was good everything was hunky dory. The landowners were getting their lease payments, social inconvenience compensations, royalties etc. The provincial government was doing well and was  financially better placed than others in the country. Employees couldn’t really complain about the job opportunities, good salaries and wages.

The majority of the landowners the BCA was purported to serve turned against it, despised and rebelled against it. 

It is a story new generation of Panguna landowners is born into. It is not a story restricted to past or the future. Rather, it is a story that evokes timeless lessons and has some relevance for all of us forever throughout our lifetime.

It is true, hindsight is a wonderful thing.

I have heard a lot about Perpetua  

Serero. I never met her. I will never meet her in person because she has passed on. 

She served her calling with tremendous support from men and women of the land. She had faith in customs and traditions that gave equal opportunities to women. These customs and traditions gave her the mantle and legitimacy to lead protests against the male dominated RMTL executives in the Panguna Landowners Association. 

She faced an awful amount of pressure because of intense feuding over control of PLOA and RMTL in Panguna. She took the baton and ran her lap hoping to influence and change some of the male dominated status quo in the old PLOA.

The Australian Liberal and Labor colonial governments clearly saw what was going on and regarded Panguna mine as the Achilles heel of a future, independent PNG. 

 Men like Ona, Bitanuma, Dameng and women like Serero, Gemel and others gradually realised that unless they stood up and were counted, taking a stand against the inequities they saw, they would be swamped and inundated by the complacency that was prevalent, accepted, and that supported a Panguna that seemed all normal driven by profits and benefits of mining. 

There are lessons Rio and BCL learnt out of the land dispute. Some of these lessons are harsh. Some even the best legal agreements cannot address, avert or fix, for they are based in customs and culture, not common law. 

Panguna may be most uncommon dispute or problem of its time that a foreign mining company has had to face and deal with. Its repercussions and reverberations spread through Bougainville and indeed around the world very quickly.

It has unearthed lessons that go well beyond issues normally associated with mining.

The Bel Kol approach initiated by the landowners shows traditional societies also have ways, means and mechanisms by which to resolve seemingly intractable disputes. These ways are local, restorative and win-win in their approach, not adversarial, competitive and foreign.

Some of the continuing pain, ill effects and trauma over lost land and lost dignity over Panguna are more destabilizing and debilitating than the crisis and conflict that landowners and many other Bougainvilleans endured.  

Everyone that has lived through the crisis on the Island or has been affected one way or another, directly or indirectly, has had to deal with the horrors of crisis, war and conflict. Rebuilding lives, normalcy and returning to a resilient society is a longer journey that will take many generations over many lifetimes.

Little wonder people are prepared to protect their rights and defend the land with their lives. It is true, isn’t it, that one cannot fully understand and appreciate peace and freedom unless you either lose it or you have been suppressed.

I hope looking back we can pass on to the next generation the genuine benefits of hindsight.

 

Bougainville News : Speaker envisages a modern, well-functioning Bougainville House of Representatives

 ” When I was appointed Speaker by the House in June 2015 I said my first priority would be to provide our Members with the necessary assistance, proper services and facilities to enable them to perform their duties and responsibilities to serve their constituencies better. 

We are on track to meet this undertaking. I’m extremely pleased with the progress we have made in the last 19 months. While funding is limited, there is no limit to the ideas and ways and means we can pursue improvements for our elected representatives.

I envisage a modern, well-functioning Bougainville House of Representatives comparable to any in our Pacific Region in the foreseeable years ahead. Our primary responsibility is to the people through their elected Members in the House. “

 Statement by the Speaker of the Bougainville House of Representatives  Simon Pentanu

Pictured above with the Clerk of the House inspecting Members’ new computer room and work station.

The Bougainville House of Representatives will commission a new Members’ Resources Centre adjacent to the Parliament House at Kubu. 

The Centre will have ten work stations with desktops and Internet access for to Members to use. For some Members the facility will further their skills in computer use, access information, respond to queries and for research. 

The Centre will also have a Conference room, providing additional space for parliamentary committees.

Meanwhile, four haus wins that were built in 2015 have now also been fitted with lights and Internet access for members to use.

These addition of the haus wins in 2015 and now the Research Centre in Parliament precinct are welcome but they are temporary reprieves for our parliamentarians who have been left to fend for themselves without even basic office accommodation since the inauguration of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville House of Representatives in June 2015. 

As former Chief Ombudsman it gives me particular pleasure to witness the Ombudsman Commission having now established an office in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. I urge the Commission to exercise its jurisdiction with responsibilityb to promote good governance in the Region.

As Speaker I have been very keen to establish close contacts, consultations and meaningful partnership with the  National Parliament. We will continue to vigorously pursue this following the elections and into the future. 

The fruitful contact has included discussions at the level of Speakers and Clerks and some exchange visits between our parliamentary committees.

The UNDP Peace Building Fund has been a welcome facility in our legislative institutional strengthening efforts at Parliament House during the last 15 months.

It is important that we promote the role of Parliament and give representative democracy a practical meaning for everyone.  

To this end I am keen to see a better coordinated approach for better outcomes to strengthen the role of the Parliament with our traditional aid donors and  partners in this part of the world. 

 

End ….

 

 

Bougainville Lifestyle News : Wonders of the past. Lure into the future . A world to be shared

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“We should tell our stories in the first person because this is the best way we used to share our stories and exploits as children growing up in the village. I still see and hear kids in the village doing the same today”.

Simon Pentanu

Picture 1 Above : The faithful canoe still very much in use to take you anywhere : Modernization has brought speed and progress but will not take the fun and joy away from using canoes.

As I remember, growing up more than three score years ago, Pokpok Island was covered with a lot of primary green forest, thick jungle, dense canopy and impassable undergrowth. Along the coastal beaches the forest laden with its vines and creepers came bearing down to meet the sea.

This was before Lucas walkabout sawmills, Stihl and Husqvarna brand chainsaws, purseiner nets, and material affluence and its effluence from mining arrived and happened on Bougainville.

Growing up on the Island what we mostly liked and enjoyed was what we did, not what we had or acquired. Our idea of abundance and being happy growing up was not toys, computer games, gifts of sorts for every occasion or a treat in shops where mum and dad could get you whatever you asked for.

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Picture 2  :Children still create their own fun climbing up or sitting on tree branches above ground

Rather, and looking back, it was more about what we did with a lot of time we had like making kids bows and arrows, going up trees and hanging from their branches, getting into canoes and paddling out, staying out in pouring rain and playing in puddles or small floods, swimming a lot, or running into the bushes looking for wild fruits and nuts and admiring the pingtu (praying mantis).

Growing up in the village you couldn’t miss noticing the Island always teemed with a lot of life and innocence that was simple. Everyone then seemed more caring. The whole Island also looked bigger and taller with taller and bigger old growth trees still standing from the beaches up to the hills and mountain.

Possums, other tree climbing marsupials, and snakes roamed the island from end to end along tree tops and along the forest canopy without touching the ground. This might sound like something like a story with drawings from a children’s story book.

No, this really is true about what was then before human habitation, starting with first initial years of settlement of the Island by Chief Sarai and his son Miramira.

In the bushes, brushes and shrubs the hissing flow of pristine creeks was unmistakable for anyone walking or doing gardens or hunting and gathering that wanted to quench their thirst.

Near the ground on the small branches and vines the pingtu always camouflaged itself well but its stationary, slow motion stick dances and sways gave them away.

I used to wonder what they ate and lived on. As for the kids we could wander and walkabout most of the day feeding off the bush on wild fruits, ground tucker and tree nuts like the galip.

Birds sang as they liked, the crickets cranked, the cockatoos blah blah’d at the slightest sight of any human movement below. Other birds shrieked and whistled their unique sounds.

You could never miss the flying hornbill couples by the continuous harmonica like noise produced by the flapping of their wings.

We came to know and realise that the deep-thong gooey sounds of some birds meant it was time to make headway home before the sun set and night fell quickly.

A lot has changed since of course. And not all of it for the better. Along with many of the old growth trees have also gone family members, relatives and friends.

But those of us that are still here still remember them by the trees that still stand, the same bush tracks that we used to walk following each other, and by the familiar sound of birds though they aren’t plentiful and boisterous anymore.

Pokpok Island still supports its inhabitants in increasing numbers. The Islanders are more conscious and have increasing awareness and respect for the environment. There is less and less food gardening in the hills.

Fishing is the mainstay of food for protein as well as being the main reliable income earner.

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Picture 3  :Modernization has brought speed and progress but will not take the fun and joy away from using canoes.

To all inhabitants this is their Paradise, a safe and peaceful haven where everyone knows and respects each other.

It is an Island of peace, of peaceful people and is quickly becoming an allure for day visitors and short stayers.

Our traditions in Bougainville are founded more in sharing than in giving and taking. This is the case with most traditional societies in most parts of this planet.

We share the lavish beauty that surrounds us, the food that we grow in family or communal plots, the sunshine we allow everyone to get by sharing open spaces with no boundaries, the beachfront where we swim and play together, and staring into each other’s eyes and faces as a gesture to acknowledge we all have similar differences.

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Picture 4  : Sharing village beach with young Australian visiting Marist students.

If you venture to Pokpok Island today you can still soak some of the past but it is a stay that is more about how much time you have to enjoy what is around today.

Accommodation is available at Uruna Bay Retreat that is already catering for the quiet, adventurer short sayer type that want to be left on their own, that prefer swimming, snorkelling, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, bit of surfing and other water sports. Trekking  is included in the mix.

It’s fun. Come and rejuvenate, enjoy, and leave with a clear head, as a kinder soul, and with a mindful heart. It is in places and surroundings like this that you can find peace, stop talking and listen to and understand the language of your heart.

😇 May you enjoy the rest of the remaining days of your life with joy, peace and happiness as you desire.

For more info about or book

Bougainville’s PokPok Island and Uruna Bay Retreat

 

Bougainville Communications News : New technologies to improve Bougainville Government governance and transparency

ABG

The Bougainville Peace Agreement is the real basis for us all being here today. It provides us with an exclusive right to self-determination. We can choose and shape our future, a right unique in PNG, and rare internationally. We should celebrate this right.”

President Chief Dr. John Momis Launching the AROB Website

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The new system will strengthen accountability and transparency of Bougainville’s Parliament and its representatives, This equipment will help our electorates have more access to what their representatives are saying here on their behalf and will enable them to ask questions. It will help make the parliament more accountable.”

Overall, the support we have received from UN is helping us improve governance and the Parliamentary Service in particular.” 

Speaker of the House of Representatives in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea, Simon Pentanu

Picture: Hansard system handover ceremony with Lawrence Bassie, UNDP Programme Coordinator, Speaker of the Bougainville House of Representative Simon Pentanu and Acting Chief Secretary Paul Kebori.

FROM the new Bougainville Government Website http://www.abg.gov.pg/

The Bougainville Peace Agreement is a joint creation of the Government of Papua New guinea and Bougainville leaders, signed on 30 August 2001 in Arawa. It was heralded then as world class peace document. The Agreement provides a road map for all parties, based on three pillars: Autonomy, Weapons Disposal and a Referendum on Bougainville’s political status.

UNDERSTANDING THE BOUGAINVILLE PEACE AGREEMENT:

The Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) is the outcome of more than 20 agreements signed by Bougainville leaders and the National Government leaders on August 30 2001 to find lasting peace and a political settlement for the people of Bougainville. The BPA calls for Bougainville to have its own constitution and further calls for a Bougainville constitution that recognizes the sovereignty of PNG and the PNG Constitution.

Among the many agreed aspects contained in the BPA, they can be categorised under the three main pillars described as:

  • The agreed Autonomy arrangement for Bougainville;
  • The agreed weapons disposal plan adopted by the Peace Process Consultative Committee following consultation with the ex-combatants; and
  • The agreement to a constitutionally guaranteed referendum on Bougainville’s political future to be held amongst Bougainvilleans in 10-15 years after the establishment of the Autonomous Bougainville Government. When conditions are right with a separate independence as an option and the outcome subject to the final decision-making authority of the National Parliament.

LEARN MORE:

Read more about the three pillars (AutonomyWeapons Disposal & Referendum) and access the key documents associated with the BPA.

New Hansard recording system

New Hansard recording system has been installed at the Bougainville Parliament enabling it to record and transcribe its sessions and proceedings.

The Hansard system is a digital system used to produce transcripts of the Parliament’s debates and sessions, a global practice that ensures accountability and transparency of the Parliaments around the world. It was brought to Bougainville as part of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) support to the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

The Hansard system was installed by For The Record, an Australian based company. It is fitted with the most up to date software and is the same one used around the world including in Australia and UK Parliaments.

The system allows for primary and backup recording in both main parliamentary chamber and committee room. All recordings are then automatically replicated to a central archive server of the intranet, from where  all audio playback and log notes can be accessed and reviewed.

Lawrence Bassie, Programme Coordinator of the Peace Building Fund Programme in Bougainville, who handed over the equipment to the Speaker said that this is part of UNDP’s overall support to help build good governance and capacity of the Autonomous Bougainville Government: “The UN is here to support you in line with the Autonomous Bougainville Government’s initiatives and their aspirations for the people of Bougainville.”

Acting Chief Secretary, head of the Bougainville Public Service, Paul Kebori, noted that the Parliament is critical for democracy and the Hansard equipment will ensure “Up-to-date records of Parliamentary proceedings which will also be accessed in the future by the public.”

UNDP’s support is made possible through the UN Peace Building Fund and is aimed at helping the Government of Papua New Guinea and Autonomous Bougainville Government consolidate peace, enhance community cohesion, good governance and build capacity of various government departments.

 

Bougainville Tourism News: Some insights into tourism development in #Bougainville #PNG

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“ABG recognises the largely untapped potential of tourism and is aware Bougainville has the natural attraction to lure adventure and niche’ travellers to its shores. But a lot needs to be done . Success does not come overnight. There are no short cuts and quick fixes in success in anything.

ABG’s financial resources and capacity which has to be shared with other areas and services seeking more urgent attention has not been easy. Clearly, this creates a lot of room and space for private enterprise driven participation in an industry that can be both profitable and enjoyable with the right advice and approach and sense of ownership.

Simon Pentanu was appointed Speaker of the Bougainville House of Representatives in June 2015.

Picture above Bungalows under progress at Uruna Bay Retreat

He comes from Pokpok Island where he has a home and a private retreat through which community participation and paid employment of women and youth amongst its Island communities is being promoted. He advocates“small, rural and local is beautiful” across Bougainville.

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Bougainville’s natural  beauty and attractions, including its vibrant culture like the rest of the country, can be best showcased with serious and deliberate government involvement. For now this is lacking and can be explained largely as a result of lack of resources, capacity and focus and due to the fact that since it was established the tourism office and responsibility has been moved from pillar to post. The settling in, focus, funding and seriousness has been amiss.

With so much potential staring at us in the face tourism in Bougainville it is time our political leaders and bureaucrats alike take the attitude that if tourism has to contribute to ABG’s coffers, then it should be well-intended and for good gain. A number of private operators that have been self-starters to promote tourism are the ones carrying the baton up front. The amount of promotion they are doing both out of joy in promoting the beauty of the Island and as a business is a good story.

The Autonomous  Region today is, in many ways, at the stage in its attempts to promote tourism where PNG was about 30 years ago. Then, PNG started its budding attempts to promote the industry. It wasn’t something easy like a casual walk along the beach, a nearby bushwalk or a small hill climb. It was gradual with early forays into areas of unique attractions like for example driving into a village in Asaro to be greeted by its famous mystical Asaro mud men. There are other numerous examples such as the early cruises up the Sepik or the Baining Fire Dance and the Malagan mask phenomena in the New Guinea Islands. Along the way tourists started fitting their itineraries and visits to the annual calendar of many provincial Cultural Shows which have now become well renown and frequentedannual events. Bougainville can not only learn enormously from these early starts, including teething issues in the rest of PNG but can start to fit its own cultural events around some of the dates of these events.

The PNGTA is a vast repository of information and experience that Bougainville tourism authorities can tap into. The world has become small in an industry that has virtually encompassed countries  globally and where there are no boundaries or barriers to movement or travel, barring religious and fanatical wars. PNGTA is benefitting enormously from its membership, attendance and participation in regional and global tourism events. It has also learnt that it does not have to copy or compete for the same markets like others but has created its own brand of adventure, cultural and niche’ attractions.

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SEE Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotions Authority Website

Along the way PNGTA has learnt some hard, some sad but many useful lessons. The aches and pains have come with the successes and joys in seeing and industry grow into many niche’ attractions around its many tribal and ethnic cultures, languages, landscapes and seascapes. Bougainville stands to gain a lot from the road travelled and challenges met by PNGTA. Bougainville does not have to reinvent the wheel but we can improve the oiling and lubrication in our spokes and nuts and bolts to cruise forward with so much potential begging to be tapped.

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SEE : Bougainville community support and vision puts Bougainville tourism on the world’s stage

Zhon Bosco Miriona, Managing Director of Bougainville Experience Tours for second time in the past few years was able to represent Bougainville on the world stage supported by Colin Cowell an International media and tourism consultant with over 25 years’ experience marketing Indigenous tourism

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In March 2016 Zhon is representing Bougainville in Germany at ITB the worlds largest travel show VIEW ITB SITE Listing

Download the PNG ITB Promo press release

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Top Photo Social media  : Online tour bookings site , Facebook ,@YesBougainville on Twitter and Bougainville Tourism INSTAGRAM are playing an important role in Bougainville Experience Tours  International Marketing

Second Photo Above : Developing partnerships with Wako Napusu Inbound operator Country Tour PNG and Asian operators above to bring in small groups for a 7 day Bougainville Tour Experience

PNGTA has also matured in keeping in check the pros and cons of tourist invasions, so to speak. It is a very sensible approach. The country does not necessarily want to promote tourism for arrivals en mass. This is a very important consideration in developing niche’ markets and keeping cultures genuinely intact. No one can ever completely preserve cultures in a test tube or a freezer but impact of outside influence and modernity can be managed with sensible long term policies and cooperation between government policy makers and independent state supported tourism bodies or corporations. In this regard, in terms of government support to PNGTA it has been a journey on bumpy roads, through humps, pot-holes and sometimes swaying bridges along the way. But the Association has been the richer and mature for the experience.

Bougainville can learn from all of the above. We can forge meaningful contacts, contracts and understanding for assistance in going forward in a planned and deliberate fashion with PNGTA.

It is heartening to see emerging self-start operators like Zhon Miriona Bosco from Bougainville Experience Tours and others in north and south Bougainville to establish links with PNGTA in brooding tourism in Bougainville. In time, there is no doubt other individual operators will emerge as Bougainville continues to open up to one of the cleanest and visible industries that can promote the Island.

ABG recognises the largely untapped potential of tourism and is aware Bougainville has the natural attraction to lure adventure and niche’ travellers to its shores. But a lot needs to be done over the years. Success does not come overnight. There are no short cuts and quick fixes in success in anything. ABG’s financial resources and capacity which has to be shared with other areas and services seeking more urgent attention has not been easy. Clearly, this creates a lot of room and space for private enterprise driven participation in an industry that can be both profitable and enjoyable with the right advice and approach and sense of ownership.

Clear, comprehensive, comprehendible mid to long-term policies is one way ABG can put tourism on a better footing. It is from this position that the Ministry, office and authority charged with responsibility to promote tourism in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville can develop deliberate and better long term view from the standing, stationary start is at now.

In the present Momis-Nisira Government the Minister for Economic Affairs Hon Fidelis Semoso MP has the will, the clout, the credentials and the leverage required to establish a meaningful and working contact with PNGTA. This would move the office from its dormant existence to at least some level headed planning view to where or how far Bougainville wants to take its tourism.

There are some aspects of office work that does not necessarily need huge funds but rather just thinking things through and mapping out. One such area concerns the risks and inhibitions to any opportunity to attracting and expanding tourism as an industry. First and foremost is the issue of law and order. This is a major concern in selling tourism in PNG but to its credit the PNGTA has spared no effort in putting better and localised perspective to this menace. Bougainville can certainly learn a thing or two from the arduous efforts PNGTA has made in this area. Landowner issues is another one when trekking and bird watching or just bushwalking is involved. Issues of benefits to a local community are matters that should attract attention to authorities. Advice and mentoring to willing starters in local areas is another area our officials in tourism office can help without much expenditure in resources or efforts.

The cost of travel to and within PNG is expensive. In more Bougainville it is even more expensive right across the board including airfares, local transport, accommodation, even food in lodges and motels. This should change over time and there is some evidence of this as the level of accommodation and variety of food in Buka and Arawa in more decent accommodation is improving.

Bougainville Office of Tourism Website

Developing an annual calendar around cultural events that are staged by communities for their own importance and purpose at their own time is something the office responsible for tourism in Buka can certainly work on. It is more reliable to plan this way because for communities these cultural events aren’t scheduled around tourist visits but have been a part of their life and cultural significance for years. On the part of tourist office staff this involves going out to the people to promote awareness over time. Instead of waiting for large funds the tourism office should go out to the people for which the cost shouldn’t be huge at all.

Some training and education for intending and existing tour operators and tour guides is a must so there is proper awareness on the do’s and don’ts of tourism. Again there is no need to reinvent the wheel. A working relationship can be established with PNGTA to help the tourism office in Bougainville. To this end there are also opportunities annually for the office of tourism and for private operators to attend tourist expositions hosted by PNGTA and by other Associations in the region.

It often begs the question, what does the office of tourism actually do in Bougainville? This is not a rhetorical question but a question that is being asked more and more. And rightly so. When you have good, attractive, usable and functional product to develop and promote and sell very well  why is it hard to promote and sell. Everyone boasts about how Bougainville is beautiful, how we might become a Mecca for tourists looking for authentic pristine beauty or how relatively peaceful it is for tourist to find once they get here. BUT who is doing the hard yakka that’s got to be done?

The Minister responsible for tourism can be best served by the tourism office by providing good briefs on where we are at, where we want to be in the next four years based on the remaining years of the current Government. And, in addition, how best the Government and private operators can best consult each other. The experience of PNGTA in this regard would be quite valuable. The current Minister’s audacious, no nonsense and result oriented approach would bode well with the benefit of good, regular advice from those that are charged with developing the industry. As already mentioned, establishing meaningful links with PNGTA is bound to pay good, tangible dividends.

Bougainville has always learnt the hard way from its shortcomings. The courage and conviction of the people to succeed at all is always there and has always moved everybody on and forward. Tourism has the potential as a reliable and clean income earner and cash generator . We can do this through joint effort between government and private enterprise and through humbling ourselves to ask others that have travelled this road to help and guide us, specifically PNGTA. PNGTA is already a very recognisable product, a global brand name in the tourism industry.

Bougainville can prove its worth best through doing the hard work led by those tasked and paid in the office of tourism. Any other joint effort will come if the officers and authorities start pegging and advancing their work inside and outside the office. It is not enough to just trumpet out the all too familiar metaphor we are so used to chanting and hearing that “we can do it”.

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Simon Pentanu pictured above learning international tourism marketing from Colin Cowell ” selling ” to 30 international buyers at a travel Expo in Port Moresby 2014. From left Zhon , Colin ,Simon and James Tanis.

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“Bougainville is a land of simple, untouched pleasures; from our turquoise seas to lush rain forests.Experience our unique Bougainville Island, nature, culture, history and friendly people “

 

 

 

 

Bougainville House of Representatives : Statement by the Speaker Simon Pentanu

 Simon Pentanu

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES 

Office of the Speaker

STATEMENT BY SPEAKER

Budget session

The Speaker of the House of Representatives Simon Pentanu MHR has announced the 2015 Budget meeting will commence on Monday 21 December at 2 o’clock pm. This is the date agreed to in consultation with the President and the Minister for Finance taking into account the preparation time for the budget to be finalised. The House will meet over two to three days to consider and approve the Autonomous Region’s  budget for 2016.

This will be the final meeting for this year. The first meeting of the House in the New Year will be in March at a date and time to be fixed by the Speaker in consultations with the President.

In a prepared statement the Speaker also made brief reference to a number matters on his impressions to the start of the Third House 2015-2020.

Parliamentary Committees

The Speaker said the start to his term in Office has been eventful. It has been a period of settling in for all members, including Ministers. The Speaker expressed a particular delight that the House has appointed its main and important select and statutory parliamentary committees early in the life of the Third House. The parliamentary committee system in its full operational capacity would provide the best opportunities for members to play their rightful roles in wider and inclusive ways as leaders, lawmakers and elected representatives.

 Parliament poorly resourced

Mr Pentanu said resources,  financial resources in particular, will continue to be a challenge in the administration of the Parliament. In this regard the Speaker said that sadly, over the last ten years the Parliament which is an important arm of the Government has been poorly resourced. Even more appalling, the Legislature as one of the three symbiotic arms of the Government has been regarded , if not degraded as if it is just another administrative arm of the Autonomous Bougainville Administration.

He said that unless this attitude is changed Parliament and its parliamentarians will not play their representative, lawful roles as long as the Parliamentary Service continues to be poorly resourced. He said it is already obvious to him that the demand on members’ time and effort compared to the meagre resources that come with the office of a member is enormous. A Parliament and parliamentary service that is adequately resourced can plan well in supporting the constitutional mandate of elected leaders and provide integrity and respect to the roles they are expected to perform.

Financial Accountability

Our whole financial administration regime and accountabilities for funds at every level need to be blow torched and overhauled. We cannot continue to walk up and down the same corridors and expect different results. I am confident however, we have the leaders in Parliament to institute changes through well thought out and considered decisions to demand more and better accountabilities overall over ABG’s finances  in order to do and achieve more from the resources Bougainville is raises and receives. Our members are not just law makers, the Parliament is also the highest oversight body to which the Executive and the bureaucracy is accountable.

Women’s participation

Our women parliamentarians have shown confidence, commitment, desire and a strong will to make their marks inside and outside Parliament as they strive to represent women of Bougainville. Their participation in debates, the questions they direct at the ministerial benches and their appreciation of what their roles entail has been impressive so far.

Former combatants

Our three members representing the former combatants have contributed to discussions and debates in an assured way. They are members of important parliamentary select committees. However, as representatives of interest groups the members need more assistance in articulating the hovering constituency issues in a way that Parliament and Bougainville leadership may be able to involve or utilise their membership in a progressive way in connection with the constituents they represent.

Positive start

The management of the business of the House, the corporation and collaboration with the Executive in Parliament and attendance and  participation by all members during parliamentary sessions has been pleasing. Members have benefitted from inductions at the start of their political and parliamentary career. Member’s attendance and participation at a recent parliamentary seminar jointly hosted by the Department of Referendum, Peace and Veterans in a rural setting was very encouraging.

Autonomous funding

Ours is a Parliament by the People, for the People, of the People and we must go back to the People at every opportunity.  I do not see why this should be difficult when this is the duty and desire of all members. It is absolutely possible with proper planning and adequate funding under an arrangement in which Parliament is funded separately in an autonomous arrangement where it is provided and is accountable for its funding.

 

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 Elections 2015: Simon Pentanu new ABG speaker full acceptance speech

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“Just as you feel politically responsible in serving your constituency, as Speaker my role and responsibility is to equip and serve you to perform your principle roles as legislators and decision makers in your role as service providers. In other words, our primary interest is the same and that is to serve our people.

As Members of the House this can be best done in four main ways.

One, by strengthening the institution of Parliament. This will take all of us from the President down to the Members to first recognise that in the system of democracy and governance we have chosen the Parliament is the epitome of our democracy as provided for in the Constitution. The Parliament as a body comprising the Peoples representatives is the highest accountable as well oversight body of people domiciled and functioning in a single place. We need to appreciate and add value to this.”

Simon Pentanu Speaker, Autonomous Bougainville Government 2015-2020

See full speech below or Download a copy here

 Acceptance and acknowledgment by Speaker Simon Pentanu AROB 2015

BY SEBASTIAN HAKALITS

THE Autonomous Bougainville Government has a new speaker.

He is former Ombudsman Commissioner and former National Parliament clerk, Simon Pentanu.

Mr Pentanu, from Pokpok Island in Central Bougainville, was voted in by the members of the 3rd ABG house after the swearing in of the new member’s yesterday (Monday) morning at the parliament chamber.

A speaker of the parliament is voted in by the members and must be from outside of parliament whereas the deputy speaker must be a member of the House.

Only two candidates were nominated by the parliament members and Mr Pentanu was nominated by parliament members from the Central regional committee while Andrew Miriki, former ABG parliament speaker, was nominated by the South regional committee.

A secret ballot voting was conducted by the 40 members of the house and Mr Pentanu was declared the Speaker after surpassing the absolute majority of 20+1, scoring 23 votes while Mr Miriki scored only 17 votes.

Mr Pentanu thanked the former speaker and the members for making the decision to elect him as the new speaker and said he does not represent any constituency but represents the members who represent the people.

“The parliament is my constituency and my role a responsibility is to serve you the members in decision making and the parliament is a highest body for the people and is an institution to uphold democracy, laws and tradition of the people…,” he said.

After taking his seat front of the chamber Mr Pentanu then proceeded to conduct the secret ballot voting for the deputy speaker that was won by Francisca Semoso, who is the North Bougainville Women’s member, against Christopher Kenna, who is member for Lato constituency in South Bougainville with 28 votes to 12.

ACCEPTANCE AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Simon Gregory Pentanu

Speaker of the House of Representatives

Autonomous Region of Bougainville

Kubu

15 June 2015

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Honourable Members,

I am going to break from convention and tradition that new Speakers often follow to script when they are elected to assume the Speaker’s Chair as I am doing today.

To start with let me begin, on your behalf and on my own behalf, by acknowledging and paying respect to all the local clans on Buka, the traditional custodians of this Island – especially  here in Tsitalato constituency – where we are meeting today and where this House, the highest decision making body, is situated at this time.

In saying this I thank all Members, including the President, for exercising your individual choices to arrive at a collective decision in appointing me to assume the role of Speaker. What we just witnessed with the Clerk chairing the first business of the House was a very democratic process in which the Speaker was elected through a secret ballot.

In thanking you and acknowledging your decision I wish to say what is important to recognise is, regardless of how or where a Member voted in making their decision during the ballot, the appointment of the  Speaker is the choice of the House.

As Speaker my allegiance is to the House and to all Members irrespective of what region, constituencies, special interest or gender you represent.

I may be from Central Bougainville, I may have been nominated by the Central regional committee. Yes, making a choice to reflect a fair regional representation is important in fostering the spirit of unity. Yes, unity of purpose and united approach has been the hallmark of peace building and reconciliation efforts all along in getting to where we are today. We all well know this. And yes, we should also remind ourselves on occasions like today the Bougainville Constitutional Commission gave a lot of thought, consideration and credence to a fair and equitable representation in the spoils of office during its arduous task in drafting  the Bougainville Constitution.

I feel humbled and honoured and at the same time proud to be the one saying this. On the other hand, or should I say by the same token, I would also rather like to think – and I am sure many honourable Members  also share this view – that any Bougainvillean that is appointed by the House as its Speaker is done largely on the candidate’s merits.

The Speaker does not represent a geographical or electoral constituency. But it is important to point out that he or she is appointed by the people through their representatives in this House.

In a very real way then, the Parliament is my constituency. The Members are my constituents.

Just as you feel politically responsible in serving your constituency, as Speaker my role and responsibility is to equip and serve you to perform your principle roles as legislators and decision makers in your role as service providers. In other words, our primary interest is the same and that is to serve our people.

As Members of the House this can be best done in four main ways.

One, by strengthening the institution of Parliament. This will take all of us from the President down to the Members to first recognise that in the system of democracy and governance we have chosen the Parliament is the epitome of our democracy as provided for in the Constitution. The Parliament as a body comprising the Peoples representatives is the highest accountable as well oversight body of people domiciled and functioning in a single place. We need to appreciate and add value to this.

Two, the Parliament is an institution that will best function and deliver the values that we aspire to in our democracy only when its constituent parts are well resourced, well served and well articulated and assisted to perform your political roles. This includes meaningful participation in decision-making in Parliament through debates, through parliamentary committees which are an extension of the Parliament and through your direct engagement with the people.

Three, 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.

Four, it is important there are close and meaningful consultations with the Speaker and the Clerk with the Executive in planning and appropriating sufficient resources to allow better and more proactive roles by members in serving their constituents and in maintaining an effective and efficient functioning Parliament.

Might I also add that the House as well as the Executive needs to start paying more attention to the Members representing Women and Former Combatants who have been elected to their respective reserved seats. The Bougainville Constitutional Commission was very deliberate in including this provision of reserved seats in the Parliament. The Parliament and the Government must give practical effect to enhance the participatory and decision-making roles that women continue to play and that former combatants can bring to bear in resolving and bringing to closure many issues that remain to be addressed and attended to.

Honourable Members,

Today, June 15 2015 marks the third anniversary of ABG. How and where we start in performing our roles in this Third House of Representatives will determine how much we improve and achieve at the end of the next 5 year term starting today.

Let me take this opportunity to thank my immediate predecessor, former Speaker Hon Andrew Miriki for his services in providing leadership in this role in the last two Houses. It is a service to duty to the Parliament and to the People that is worth mentioning and putting on record. I have followed Speaker Miriki and he can be well proud of his leadership and chairmanship that saw the passage of a number important legislations which are further steps towards implementing both  political and financial autonomy. This includes the passage through Parliament of the various stages of the mining legislation.

Similarly, I wish to put on record our thanks and appreciation to the pioneer Speaker of the House Mr Nick Peniai. Mr Peniai who took on the task as first Speaker of the first House with great optimism and enthusiasm. I can say this because after assuming office he sought advice and consulted with a number of us quite extensively. The most important achievement during Speaker Peniai’s tenure was the admission of the Bougainville House of Representatives as a full member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

Honourable Members,

As Speaker, I give you my assurance that as head of the legislative arm and as Presiding Officer I will perform to the best of my ability in upholding and protecting the values of this institution.

In saying so, I  also stress my conviction that this is only possible if we all work together. I will be a working Speaker. However, I must repeat that we can only achieve any goals and objectives by working for each other but more importantly by working with each other.

We will do this with decorum, integrity, dignity, transparency, accountability, honesty and hopefully with an acute sense of purpose. While the Speaker is expected to maintain independence in office this independence should not be confused with isolation. I will keep my lines of communication open to allow for meaningful consultations and discussions with all Members.

Finally, I congratulate the President, members elected to the open constituencies, members elected to the reserved seats for women and former combatants for winning your respective seats. Among us today we have for the first time a woman who has won her seat in an open constituency seat.

I thank you all for placing your trust and confidence in appointing me as Speaker for this third House of Representatives  2015 – 2020.

May God bless this House and bless all of us to be worthy servants of and for our people.

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Bougainville Education News: Fundraising sports day in Panguna raises education funds for kindles

 

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“There are strong indications that the benefits of mobile reading like kindles are long-lasting and far-reaching, with the potential to improve literacy, increase education opportunities and change people’s lives for the better.

A revolution in reading is upon us…”

For now BookGainVille cannot afford to buy a kindle for every child but what we do afford to give every child here and now is the dream to have access to one

 James Tanis co-founder Bookgainville Education Revolution

The BookGainVille Cup Children’s Soccer kicked off last week at Kamex Children’s Field, Okangsira VA, Panguna District in Bougainville PNG

No uniforms, no boots and one soccer ball for both boys and girls.

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A humble beginning to a big dream to self-raise funds to buy kindles for every child in Bougainville schools.

Using e-readers (like the Amazon Kindle) and potentially recycled phones the BookGainVille project wants to provide Bougainville children and families access to hundreds of thousands of books, giving them an opportunity to change their lives.

In May 2014 the Kindle project was launched in Bougainville and 11 schools now have donated kindles ,the latest this month being the Guava School near Panguna (see picture below)

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The increasing ubiquity and diminishing costs of digital technology enabled BookGainville  to solve these problems in a simple and straight-forward way. Wherever possible, they will be building on digital platforms and mobile connectivity to make our books available to children and families who need them the most. To date they have been providing e-readers to schools in need through both sponsorships and sales.

In the first stage BookGainville has utilized Amazon Kindles that cost originally Aus$99.00 and can hold up to 1,400 books each. If you consider 1 hard copy of a book could cost say 35 Kina , that’s potentially 50,000 kina worth of books potentially on just one Kindle. Each school 250,000 kina of books

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BookGainVille will be actively curate books by Bougainville authors for our library. The more relevant and engaging a student’s first reads are, the more likely they are to continue learning and reading throughout their life

James Tanis continues to negotiate to ensure ABG adopts the kindle project for all Bougainville Schools . Recently Minister Michael Oni committed to funding kindles

The Bookgainville Cup and Kindles were donated by Colin Cowell, Simon Pentanu, Zhon Bosco and donors from PNG, Bougainville and International

Background to Bookgainville Education Project

In 2013 James Tanis the ex-President of Bougainville was studying at the Australian National  University and teamed up with Canberra based Colin Cowell a communications consultant (who had a 44 year  association with Bougainville)  to find a solution to the problem “that most Bougainville school children not have any books to read.”

James from the Nariana community (via Panguna) and his friend Simon Pentanu from Pokpok Island believed there were strong indications that the benefits of mobile reading technology could be long-lasting and far-reaching, with the potential to improve literacy, increase education opportunities  and change Bougainville students lives for the better

The need to improve literacy in Bougainville schools

According to UNESCO “Literacy is transformative: it increases earning potential, decreases inequality, improves health outcomes and breaks the cycle of poverty “.Yet there are still 740 million illiterate  people in this world and  in Bougainville there are many children of primary school age who lack basic reading and writing skills.

Books are necessary for the development of these skills, and still many schools in Bougainville have few or no books at all.

 The BookGainville education vision

BookGainVille Education project Leadership group will be the voice for

1.Students to do their best and achieve their best;

2.Parents to make education the first priority in the family;

3.Demand those in possession of arms to replace their guns with pens and papers;

4.Tell landowners to negotiate for educational scholarships instead of cash payouts as  compensation;

5.The political leaders to allocate the highest budget to education;

6.Reserve some resources now and leave some to our own children so that they will harvest when they acquire the technology,

7.Donors to advocate that education must form the highest portion of aid to   Papua New Guinea (Bougainville) and

8.Advocate for all groups that contribute to education and knowledge.

How can you donate a few dollars or kina ?

DONATE HERE

Bookgainville  Project on Bougainville PNG

 

Bougainville Election News : Mekamui Tribal Government says Panguna 100 % behind Momis

 

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“The Mekamui Tribal Government of Unity stands behind President Momis as we see him as the person who will lead us to freedom,”

“The Mekamui faction has also started the realignment process with the Autonomous Bougainville Government that will see reintegration and unity amongst all Bougainvilleans,”

Mekamui Defence Force hard man, Moses Pipiro declared that the people in Panguna area were 100 percent behind President Momis : Picture presenting shell money

Please note the following text supplied by ABG media

The Mekamui Tribal Government of Unity have pledged their support to incumbent ABG President Grand Chief Dr John Momis in this year’s ABG General Elections.

Mekamui Defence Force hard man, Moses Pipiro declared that the people in Panguna area were 100 percent behind President Momis’ bid to retain the ABG Presidency in a political rally held in the heart of the Panguna Township yesterday.

“The Mekamui Tribal Government of Unity stands behind President Momis as we see him as the person who will lead us to freedom,” Mr Pipiro said.

“The Mekamui faction has also started the realignment process with the Autonomous Bougainville Government that will see reintegration and unity amongst all Bougainvilleans,” he added.

“President Momis has been with us from the very start of our struggle for self-determination and he is the only one who knows where will go,” Mr Pipiro said.

Former ABG President James Tanis was also amongst a host of leaders from North, South and Central Bougainville who endorsed President Momis’s candidacy.(file picture )

 

Mr Tanis said that his decision not to stand for this year’s elections was to allow President Momis to complete the long journey that is Bougainville’s move to self-determination and should the people choose, total independence.

“President Momis’ is on the verge of completing what he started more than 40 years ago when he took up the fight for our people’s freedom,” Mr Tanis said.

“It would be unjust for me to usurp his leadership, as a respected elder statesman he has the necessary experience and will to lead us to independence,” Mr Tanis added.

“With Bougainville’s Referendum to be held within the term of the third and final Bougainville House of Representatives, as stipulated in the PNG Constitution, Bougainvilleans must know the type of leader they want to lead them and President Momis is that leader,” Tanis said.

In attendance at the rally were ABG President, Grand Chief Dr John Momis, Mekamui Government of Unity President, Philip Miriori, former Clerk of the National Parliament and Chief Ombudsman Simon Pentanu and various ABG Members from Central and South Bougainville.

 

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