Bougainvilleans in Solomon Islands ready to vote

Bougainvilleans in Solomon Islands ready to vote. Picture: POST COURIER

HONIARA, 03 JULY 2019 (POST COURIER) – An estimated 10,000 Bougainvilleans living and working in Solomon Islands will now have their right to cast their vote for Referendum in October when they officially enroll this week.

There will be two locations for this, and the PNG High Commission in Solomon Islands will be one location for the residents of Honiara and anywhere else nearby to conduct the referendum roll enrolment process while the one in Gizo will have its exact location released this week.

Former ABG vice-president Patrick Nisira, who is now a player in the current Bougainville Referendum Commission, said yesterday that the Bougainville population in Solomon Islands, they believe have increased over the years, with unconfirmed figures they worked with totaling more than 10,000. He said this was enough to have a Bougainville constituency on its own.

BRC yesterday confirmed and announced enrolment dates for Bougainvilleans living in Solomon Islands which will be in two locations – Honiara July 5-6, PNG High Commission July 8-9 and Gizo July 11-13 (location to be confirmed).

The commission made the decision for the overseas enrolment in Honiara and Gizo (Solomon Islands), and Cairns and Brisbane (Australia) after a meeting with Chairman Bertie Ahern on Friday, June 21, in response to the strong desire for Bougainvilleans living overseas to have their say in the referendum.

Nisiria said from unconfirmed reports, and with limited resources, BRC believed these four centres Gizo, Honiara, Cairns and Brisbane had the biggest populations of resident Bougainvilleans overseas.

“Overseas enrolment is a first for PNG, so there is a lot of new work to be done – but we confident we’re making every effort to ensure as many eligible voters can have their say on polling day,” Nisira said.

“The commission has to strike the right balance between making enrolment available to Bougainvilleans living overseas within the given timeframe and resources, and the need to maintain a secure process where only eligible people are enrolled,” Mr Nisira said.

The voter eligibility criteria established by the two governments for non-resident Bougainvilleans, or those living outside Bougainville, are:

*Have links to Bougainville either by birth, adoption, marriage, or clan;

*Be born on or before 12 October 2001;

*Are a PNG citizen, and

*Are entitled to vote in PNG National Elections.

People must satisfy all criteria. People must be a PNG citizen and cannot be a dual citizen.

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