B’ville referendum to use peace-building guidelines

National, Normal

THE Bougainville referendum will be conducted under guidelines outlined in the Organic Law on peace building in Bougainville and not under the PNG electoral laws, Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato says.
Gamato, who is also a Bougainville Referendum Commission (BRC) member, was responding to questions by the public at the BRC in Buin, South Bougainville, on Wednesday.
During two roadshows in Arawa and Buin, the public raised concern that they were reluctant to use the Papua New Guinea electoral legislation for the referendum later this year.
“I want to make it clear that we will not use electoral legislations of Papua New Guinea,” Gamato said.
“The Bougainville referendum will follow the laws of the referendum.”
Gamato said since the inception of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, a couple of major tasks were achieved.
“One of those was the creation of the Bougainville Constitution which gave the powers to the province to gain the autonomy status,” he said.
“Under the Organic Law on Peace Building on Bougainville, there are schedules and regulations which govern how the referendum will be conducted.”
Gamato said it was vital to conduct a credible referendum because there would be local and international observers who would be scrutinising the referendum process.
He said the United Nations was keeping a close watch on the developments taking place in Bougainville.
Bougainville Referendum Commission chief referendum officer Mauricio Claudio said polling would take place at about 450 polling sites in Bougainville.
He said about 250 teams were being planned at this stage.
“In terms of the actual exercise or polling, it won’t be significantly different from what people have witnessed from previous ABG elections,” he said.
“Of course, there will be a key difference.
“There will be a referendum ballot in which there are two options – independence and greater autonomy.
“People won’t see a ballot with candidates, this is a referendum.”