By ALOYSIUS LAUKAI
AUTONOMOUS Bougainville Government president James Tanis is confident Bougainville will break away from PNG and become independent.
With Bougainville facing an election year, the man who was thrown in the deep end due to the death of Joseph Kabui was forthright about his views on independence for the island.
Mr Tanis was sharing his views with the people of Anganai village outside Kieta at the reconciliation ceremony of Chris Uma and Lawrence Mutu last Friday.
He said Bougainville would become an independent nation after the referendum was held
Mr Tanis said he was confident the people of Bougainville would vote “yes” when the time came.
Under the law, even if the majority decide to secede from PNG, the PNG Parliament will have the final say on whether Bougainville stays part a of PNG or becomes a nation in its own right.
Mr Tanis also appealed to all Bougainvilleans to make Bougainville gun-free before the vote is taken.
He said he does not want the people to be forced to vote but be free to vote whichever way.
Mr Tanis said the reason he visits other provinces in PNG is to raise awareness on independence for Bougainville so there would not be any questions asked or doubts raised when Bougainvilleans actually decide to be on their own.
Mr Tanis also said that Bougainville needed to increase its economic base and human resources to prepare for this.
He said the draw- down of powers and functions, now underway in an arrangement with the National Government, will be fully realised with a sound economic base and good workforce.
Mr Tanis is currently visiting some constituencies in Central and South Bougainville.
He said he would be attending reconciliation ceremonies and also visiting the Kongara constituency.
Mr Tanis started at Anganai village last Friday and at the weekend, travelled to Siwai to attend another reconciliation ceremony at Duisei village, imparting the same message for independence.
He will also attend a major reconciliation ceremony in Arawa.
The Arawa ceremony is for the people of the four towns of Arawa, Loloho, Kieta and Toniva.
Reconciliation ceremonies are also planned for Wakunai and Koromira in the Kokoda Constituency.
Mr Tanis will spend about a week in the Kongara Constituency, considered the most rugged and difficult in the mountains of Central Bougainville.