THE Bougainville referendum next year is about what is best for the people and not about independence.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said this during the business forum in Brisbane, Australia, this week.
In a statement, he said: “I have always stated very clearly our Government’s commitment to Bougainville.
“We will ensure that the letter and spirit of the Bougainville Peace Agreement is followed.” O’Neill said referendum pre-requisites must be met which includes the establishment of rule of law, and the disposal of illegal weapons.
A referendum question must be developed that will be put to the people that will be agreed by both the national Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government.
A committee has been established to work on a question that we will put to the people. He said the referendum is not about independence but about what is best for the people of Bougainville and how they want their government to run their affairs.
“Any attempt to try and talk this down is just irresponsible,” he said.
“We must focus on what is good for the people of Bougainville as a priority.
“After the vote in 2019, regardless of the question – the outcome must be tabled in the national Parliament. That is what the peace agreement states.
“I can assure you that every Member of Parliament will vote in the interests of a unified and harmonious country.
“The referendum in Bougainville will be peaceful, transparent and have minimal impact on business operations in Papua New Guinea and around the region.”
- Independence eyed