Two-day silence before polling

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THE referendum process on Bougainville will start midnight tonight with a two days of silence on the ground to reflect on the suffering faced during the 10-year crisis, chief referendum officer Mauricio Claudio says.
“Starting at midnight (Nov 20) to 8am on Saturday (Nov 23), there will be a period of silence before the polling starts,” he said.
Claudio said this was to provide a conducive and calm environment before the referendum. “This is also a request for reflection for international best practices where it relates to campaigning /canvassing for votes before voting.
“We know there are prayers being organised throughout Bougainville after all many have suffered. But that silence period will not stop the media coverage on the process itself.”
Claudio said yesterday in Port Moresby that the Bougainville Referendum Commission (BRC) was ready to deliver a successful referendum on Bougainville on Saturday.
The signing of the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) was in 2001.
“The referendum will begin at 8am on Saturday (Nov 23) and end on Dec 7 and the result will be declared on Dec 20.
“And the people should embrace and celebrate the referendum as a fulfilment of the BPA,” he said.
“And for the first time in PNG elections, polling will take place outside of the geographical boundary.
“That is outside of Bougainville and throughout PNG and overseas in the Solomon Islands and Australia.”
Claudio said the referendum was the continuation of a long peace process and not expected to lead to violence.
“We are ready and over 1,500 polling officers have been trained to operate at 829 polling stations over two weeks.
“Materials have been secured and sent to Bougainville already and the polling schedule and locations have been published and voters have been urged to check in the media.”
Claudio said the election process was the most inclusive and transparent ever been held in PNG.

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