People must be aware of issues: PM


PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill says communication is essential so that everyone in Bougainville, and other places around the nation, are aware of the issues at hand in the lead-up to the Bougainville referendum this year.
“Our government has demonstrated that we are fully committed to implementing the Bougainville Peace Agreement that includes the upcoming referendum,” O’Neill said.
“The referendum is another step forward from the troubles that began in the 1980s and we will continue to improve the lives of our people in Bougainville.
“It is important that the process ahead of the referendum is transparent and properly undertaken in the interest of all Papua New Guineans.
“Our most important objective from all of this is to ensure that the people of Bougainville are able to enjoy the quality of life that we are aspiring to for all Papua New Guineans.”
O’Neill warned that people must be on alert for misinformation, particularly from people looking to gain at the expense of the people of Bougainville.
“Awareness must be conducted so that all people in Bougainville understand the issues at hand, and are clear in their own minds how they see the future of Bougainville,” he said.
“I expect there will be some individuals and groups from outside Papua New Guinea, who have no official role that will seek to interfere and misinform for their own gain. This is a concern, and I hope all of our people in Bougainville are aware of these groups.”
O’Neill said he was looking forward to the role of the Bertie Ahern, the former prime minister of Ireland, who had been appointed by the Joint Supervisory Body as the chairman of the Bougainville Referendum Commission.
“As Ireland’s prime minister for a decade, Ahern was deeply involved in the successful negotiations between parties to bring about peace in Northern Ireland,” he said.
“Ahern has since been involved in facilitating peace in areas such as the Ukraine, Nigeria, Iran, Turkey, and the Basque Country.
“His appointment is from the Bougainville Referendum Commission and his experience and independence is greatly respected.
“This is a very important year for Bougainville, and we look forward to the Bougainville Referendum Commission continuing to make steady progress.”
The Bougainville referendum which will take place in June will decide the future of people of the province.