Tanis clears air on referendum


The people of Bougainville need to understand that the referendum in 2019 is not an independent process, says Secretary for Peace and Implementation of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) James Tanis.
“In terms of our preparations on the ground, there are approaches through the referendum preparations,” Tanis said.
Tanis told local radio station FM 100 yesterday that work needed to be done on the internal cohesion through reconciliation and dialogue at community level.
“We have 33 constituencies under the ABG and we have established 33 referendum committees in each of the constituencies of Bougainville that are carrying out awareness, consultations led by elected members of ABG and the process that they are engaged in gives them a process through which they make a constituency declaration that they are referendum-ready,” he said.
Tanis said there was a criteria used in declaring each constituency “referendum-ready”.
He said there should be more awareness done, that there was a reconciliation process and that weapons had been removed from the community.
“There is one critical declaration that we have put in place,” Tanis said.
“For the community to declare that they are committed to peace now, committed to peace during the referendum, then they will not take up arms or resolve to arm conflict if they dispute any part of the process or the outcome of the referendum.”
Tanis said there had to be a strong relationship with the national government to ensure that “we must have agreed steps, because this is an agreed referendum”.
“We must make sure that we have a strong linkages with the international community.”
He said the peace agreement was internationally recognised and led by the United Nations.
He said the process was the “first of its kind in the country, even though it was just another election process”.
“We don’t have existing data in the country.”
Tanis said time was a concern with less than two years away for the referendum.
“But I have a bit of hope, this is a country that we do a lot of last minute but we also manage to push in.”