Concern raised over B’ville referendum

National

Professorial Research Fellow Dr Thomas Webster says there needs to be more awareness on the Autonomous Region of Bougainville for people to understand the
referendum process before voting in 2019.
Speaking at a workshop with journalists on Friday, Webster said the referendum was a sensitive issue that required careful approach to communicating information.
He said at the Papua New Guinea National Research Institute (NRI) in Port Moresby that media was “very important to make people understand” the process before voting for referendum.
“Bougainville will hold a referendum in 2019 – June 15 which is the target date.  The referendum outcome will determine future governance arrangements for Bougainville.  “One of the options will be for Bougainville to be a separate, independent country. The implications and consequences for Bougainville and Papua New Guinea have not been adequately considered and discussed.”
Webster said collaboration with the media on the referendum research project was to find out if
people were aware of what  the referendum was.
“Researchers have discovered that there was a lack of information, knowledge and informed discussions around the objectives of the referendum, the preparations and conduct of the referendum and the possible outcomes, their implications and the acceptance of results,” he said.
Webster said that the researchers were “experts” engaged by the Bougainville  and Papua New Guinea governments in 2013, the United Nations Development Programme in 2014 and from the University of Goroka, Eastern Highlands, in 2017.

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