Bougainville takes referendum on the road

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The Autonomous Bougainville Government’s referendum roadshow kicked off with a bang in Central Bougainville as leaders gathered to address people in the former capital Arawa yesterday.
The roadshow is an initiative of the United Nations in conjunction with the ABG, with the objective to meet with key stakeholders in the three regions of Bougainville.
It will also give leadership the opportunity to inform and engage with people at community level to allow information regarding the referendum, post-referendum planning and related activities to be widely discussed.
This will all be underlined by the key message of “peace by peaceful means, unity and rule of law”.
Key delegates in the roadshow are ABG President Dr John Momis, Minister for Bougainville Affairs William Samb, ABG Minister for Bougainville Peace Agreement Albert Punghau and United Nations resident coordinator Gianluca Rampolla.
They were accompanied by ABG House of Representatives Speaker Simon Pentanu, commissioners of the Bougainville Referendum Commission as well as leaders from Central Bougainville.
The roadshow was an opportune time for both ABG and the national Government to engage in extensive collaboration to address the upcoming referendum, as well as preparing the people for the transitionary period after the October polls.
“Our focus is to ensure that our people are aware of the choices we as a people will make during the referendum vote,” Momis said.
“We must understand the choices being offered: greater autonomy and independence.
“What do these choices entail?
“They will be defined so that our people can make an informed choice.”
Momis said that this must be done in a democratic manner where the process had integrity, so that the quality of the referendum met international best practice standards.
The roadshow in Arawa gave the people, as well as community groups and ex-combatants such as the Core Group, an opportunity to actively participate in discussions with national and local leaders.
The roadshow will be travelling to South and North Bougainville, culminating in the delegation addressing the Bougainville House of Representatives next week.

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