BOUGAINVILLE Referendum proposed for June 19 this year is a critical discussion that all of PNG should be concerned about.
Our founding fathers have skilfully united a country of a thousand tribes and language groups under a single constitution.
They also provided options for Bougainville to determine their self-rule (Section 5; Part VIA).
To cater for Bougainville, PNG adopted the Organic Law on Provincial and Local Level Government for decentralisation and autonomous arrangement.
The Organic Law was later repealed for centralised government in 1995.
However, Bougainville was allowed greater autonomy as part of the Bougainville Peace Agreement deal with the National Government in August 2001 after a 10-year-long civil conflict.
Many of us empathise with families in Bougainville for the trauma they suffered during the crisis, hence, their emotions to break away from PNG.
In fact, Bougainville remains divided among itself by the different factions.
It also means they all come to a single consensus before they can peruse agenda such as the referendum.
As noted in recent times, attempts for weapons disposal, as one of the key pillars of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, still remain unsuccessful.
In this exercise to conduct a referendum, emotions need to be put to rest.
Both National Government and Autonomous Bougainville Government leaders need to come together and have rational and honest discussions on the future of Bougainville and PNG as a nation.
Bougainville opting to break away will certainly have a major impact on PNG and Bougainville.
Unfortunately, the ABG leaders are not properly communicating and discussing the impact of the breakaway option.
Independence would mean another very tough road for Bougainville.
The referendum awareness is not giving balanced information about the pros and cons of independence.
At this stage, I would think people are not free in their conscience to make a rational decision if the referendum was to be held as proposed in June 2019.
We trust the newly-created Independent Commission on Referendum will chart a better course for both PNG and Bougainville than divide the country.