Referendum choices defined

The Bougainville government has released a statement saying an agreement was reached last month by President John Momis and the then PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

They agreed greater autonomy would be “a negotiated political settlement that provides for a form of autonomy with greater powers than those currently available under constitutional arrangements”.

And independence means an “independent nation state with sovereign powers and laws, recognised under international law and by other sovereign states to be an independent state, separate from the State of Papua New Guinea”.

Mr Momis said the definitions provide Bougainvilleans with greater clarity, but that more public awareness was now needed.

Last week Mr Momis met with the new Prime Minister, James Marape, and they agreed the Joint Post Referendum Transition Taskforce would decide how the chosen option would be implemented in practice.

The President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville and Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, have defined the two referendum choices of greater autonomy or independence.

The agreed descriptions are:

  • Greater Autonomy: A negotiated political settlement that provides for a form of autonomy with greater powers than those currently available under constitutional arrangements.
  • Independence: An independent nation state with sovereign powers and laws, recognised under international law and by other sovereign states to be an independent state, separate from the State of Papua New Guinea. 

The descriptions were agreed to in an exchange of letters between the President Chief Dr John Momis and former Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, in May this year.

President Momis also met with the newly elected Prime Minister, James Marape in Port Moresby last week, where the two leaders discussed a range of issues required to prepare both governments and the people for the October referendum.

The two leaders also agreed that the Joint Post Referendum Transition Taskforce further develop how each description of the two options would be implemented in practice.

President Momis said the long-awaited definitions provide Bougainvilleans with greater clarity in preparing for the October 12 referendum, but more public awareness was now needed.