Referendum: Which path to take?


ONE of the principles of the Papua New Guinea Constitution is, without a doubt, to maintain national unity.
The same Constitution is also based on democratic principles which gives the power to the people to decide on the type of political system they like to have.
The right to self-determination is part and parcel of the principles of democracy.
It is that right to self-determination that has found its way into the Bougainville Peace Agreement and onto the PNG Constitution to give the people of Bougainville the right to choose whether to become independent or stay with PNG in some other form.
Knowing well that the results of the Bougainville referendum will be subject to national Parliament ratification, it is true that Bougainville will vote for independence from PNG.
It is also true that PNG will not want to let Bougainville go.
If Parliament decides against the will of the people of Bougainville by keeping them with PNG, it would be seen as a deprivation of the people’s right to self-determination.
In other words, the principles of democracy or the right of the people of Bougainville to decide what type of political future they want, would be deprived by the PNG Government.
On the other hand, if 60 to 70 per cent of voters want to remain with PNG, it would be improper for Bougainville to secede against the will of the majority.
Thus if Bougainville wants to secede by a 70- 90% vote, it would be illogical and immoral for PNG keep Bougainville.
The people of Bougainville need to decide their own political future.
The most important thing for PNG is to assess the situation from what is best for Bougainville and not from what is best for PNG.
Obviously the people of Bougainville know exactly what is best for them.

John Buka

Leave a Reply