June 15 Bougainville referendum deferred
1 March, 2019, 8:24 am
PORT MORESBY, 01 MARCH 2019 (POST COURIER) – Bougainville Referendum Commission chairman Bertie Ahern has confirmed that the June 15 target date will not be possible.
This is because the BRC still needed to get things in order such as its members and the financial issues but most specifically and importantly it would depend on the completion of the voter registration.
“The proposed vote either for independence or greater autonomy for Bougainville was no simple and easy task to conclude in anybody’s language due to the complexity of the issue,” Ahern said.
He said that there were far too many ill-explained and misunderstood issues that had to be ironed out by and between all stakeholders concerned.
These included the people there themselves, their autonomous government, local hierarchies and the National Government on the other hand, he said. Ahern said it was a complex legal matter also in itself due to the many questions arising about the definitions and meanings of certain provisions contained not only in the Bougainville Peace Agreement but the Constitution and the Organic Laws governing Bougainville.
A Bougainville Referendum Commission has already been established by law and is yet to be fully resourced and functional as the main vehicle to drive the referendum process.
Early last month, Post-Courier published a report that the Bougainville referendum date is set for June this year but was likely to be moved to October.
It was reported that the recently established Bougainville Referendum Commission intended to write to Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Bougainville President John Momis requesting an extension of the date. This would now be one of the major agenda items as the National and Bougainville governments meet today at the International Convention Centre in Port Moresby for the joint supervisory body meeting.
“It’s not our intention to delay, nor do we want any delay,” Ahern said. “We also have the issue of funding to enable proper voter registration which is still being discussed.”
A statement on all these would be released by the Commission, including a joint statement and communiqué from both governments.