28 February 2017

Bougainville President Momis on referendum readiness


The people of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (ABG) have a dream to create a new socio-economic political and moral order as they stand on the threshold of the Referendum.

ABG President Grand Chief Dr John Momis said that dream is within the reach of the people of Bougainville but they first have the responsibility to implement the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA). 

“We are looking to develop our education and health facilities and develop other infrastructure on Bougainville but we must not overlook our responsibility and that is the implementation of the BPA through credible means,” Momis said. 

“Undeniably, we have problems on Bougainville but we have also achieved a lot since the inception of the ABG; we now have the power to develop our own education policies, our health policies and others such as finance and mining,” he added. 

President Momis said the problem the ABG faces was a lack of technical capacity to develop these powers and policies to.
But Momis is also very optimistic that Bougainville will thrive as the autonomous region moves into the future. 

“Unity is the essence of our success and these problems are not impossible to overcome; our unity does not mean uniformity, it must be an all-inclusive engagement of all Bougainvilleans who must have a say on our political future come the referendum,” Momis said. 

Momis added that Bougainville determining its future must also include a future for development. 

Momis also cautioned that people must be realistic of their expectations of the outcome of the referendum. 

“Everything depends on how hard we work to achieve a favourable outcome of the referendum; we cannot dream of the impossible while we remain complacent and not work hard for it,” he said. 

“We must have faith and own the process of the referendum so that we can legitimately own the outcome that is credible and excepted by all Bougainvilleans and respected by the international community,” he said. 

“I must remind you all that in today’s globalized community we must refrain from alienating ourselves international community such as the United Nations who will play an important role at the time of the referendum,” he said. 

Momis further made a call to all Bougainvilleans not to deviate from the principles of the Bougainville Peace Agreement and to follow it as the guideline to achieving its ultimate political future. 

Meanwhile, many people in Bougainville are still in the dark about referendum in the autonomous region which would decide the island’s future. 

Acting Bougainville electoral commissioner George Manu said this at the weekend after launching an awareness campaign on the subject. 

Manu sympathised with the people and admitted that it was true that most people were still in the dark on issues associated with the referendum. 

He said it was up to responsible authorities to plan and implement these awareness activities, adding that office of Bougainville electoral commission and PNG Electoral Commission already have plans in place and would be visiting all constituency and community in Bougainville in the coming weeks to conduct awareness on the technical aspect of conducting the referendum. 

The PNG Electoral Commission and the office of the Bougainville electoral commission launched their referendum awareness programs in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville last Friday. 

The awareness programmes are based on the legal electoral aspects of conducting the referendum. It is being led and facilitated by Manu. 

Manu started the awareness drive at the Arawa Market in Central Bougainville, before travelling to Buin in South Bougainville where he conducted another awareness session on Saturday morning at the Buin town market. 

Manu and his team also delivered copies of the Bougainville referendum primer and flyers to those who attended these sessions. 

The flyers were about the electoral process of conducting the referendum. 

Members of the public were also invited to ask questions about the referendum however, Manu was only able to answer questions relating to the electoral process of the referendum. 

Manu said that from all questions raised, it was evident that one that was frequently asked was on the lack of awareness on referendum reaching the people in most areas in Bougainville.