By Max Aumora Jnr
THE process leading up to the ratification of the results of the Bougainville referendum should be pushed through Parliament as soon as possible, says Autonomous Region of Bougainville President John Momis.
The focus after referendum should be on consultation and negotiations over the results between the national government and the Autonomous Bougainville government (ABG), he said.
This, he says, is required by the Constitution and the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA).
The referendum is in June next year to gauge people’s views on Bougainville’s move towards independence.
Momis said that was only a target date and the actual date would be finalised by both governments.
Speaking at a Bougainville referendum conference in Port Moresby yesterday, Momis said: “It is not necessary for Parliament to vote on the outcome of the referendum while consultation and negotiations continue.
“If there is a long transition, consultation could continue over several years. We don’t have to rush the results of the referendum where the Parliament immediately votes on the result.”
Momis expressed concern that the K20 million allocated for referendum-elated expenses such as awareness, still hadn’t been released by the national government and was affecting preparations for the event.
He said the lack of commitment was slowing the work towards fulfilling the requirements of the Bougainville peace agreement.
Momis said BPA was a creation by the national government and the people of Bougainville and therefore needed the united efforts of both groups to make it work.
“The agreement’s main goal is “lasting peace,” he said.
While he saw the referendum, autonomy and weapons disposal as important issues, he believed that discussions should also focus on “adequate funding to address the needs of the people of Bougainville”.
Promises not fulfilled would result in the creation of a “very dangerous undercurrent” in Bougainville, he said.
The Bougainville conflict killed between 15,000 and 20,000 people from 1988 to 1998.
It was a multi-layered armed conflict between Papua New Guinea and the secessionist forces of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army. The violence ended with the signing of the Bougainville Peace Agreement in 1998.
By Max Aumora Jnr