OVER the recent months, Prime Minister James Marape has been very vocal on the issue of Bougainville, stating that the Papua New Guinea Constitution does not allow secession.
Just as any other constitutions for any independent state, one would not find a specific provision that provides for disintegration within a unified state.
Doing so contradicts the purpose of being united.
However, while this is true for all provinces in PNG to remain united, the same cannot apply to the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
In the case of Bougainville, the tragic situation that Bougainville went through during a 10-year armed conflict resulted in the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
This enabled the amendments to the PNG Constitution which created a political pathway only to Bougainville (through the referendum) to determine its own political future.
The Constitution specifically provides for separate independence for Bougainville to be one of the options in the referendum question.
The inclusion of the “independence option” for Bougainville’s political future is the special provision in the PNG Constitution, which enables Bougainville to become politically independent.
Therefore, under the Constitution, discouraging other provinces to breakaway from PNG is wrong.
Bougainville’s push for independence is supported in the Constitution.
This means the constitutional provision for an independence option for Bougainville simply implies that the Constitution of PNG allows Bougainville to become independent if it wishes to do so.
The Parliament has agreed on this.
One cannot argue that the PNG Constitution does not allow for Bougainville’s independence.