Govt to set up advisory body, consultive team with ABG


THE National Executive Council (NEC) has approved the set-up of a national advisory body and a consultative team to engage in consultations with the Autonomous Bougainville Government.
Prime Minister James Marape said his Cabinet acknowledged that a consultation process would take place now after the declaration of the Bougainville referendum result last year.
Cabinet approved the setting up of a national advisory body, a PNG national consultative team and an eminent group.
“The advisory body would offer views and advice on behalf of the Government and the people of PNG, and the consultative team undertake the consultative process with the Bougainville consultative team.
“The proposed membership of the advisory body includes community representatives, churches, business community, civil society and prominent men and women and the PNG national consultative team include senior members of Parliament and secretaries of central agency coordinating committee (CACC) or key Government departments.
“The two governments are yet to agree on a tentative format and an agenda for the consultation process and it is difficult to gauge how long it will take,” Marape said.
However, there is general hope that it could be concluded before the 2022 general elections and after the consultation process is done the two governments will commit the outcomes of their deliberations to Parliament for ratification.
Marape reiterated that as a non-binding arrangement, Bougainville’s overwhelming vote for independence did not automatically translate to immediate self-determination.
The final decision is the ratification that it is to take place after the joint consultation process and both governments, through the Bougainville Peace Agreement, do recognise the National Parliament as the highest and constitutionally mandated authority in the country.
For such reasons, it is considered crucial that a national consultative forum within a specific time frame be held before the consulting process commences, sometime between March-April.