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ABG President Hon. Ishmael Toroama – Statement at the signing of Era Kone Covenant

The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Hon James Marape and PNG delegates present here today. May I begin by offering my heart-felt gratitude to Hon James Marape, as the Prime Minister of PNG but also as a friend for your commitment to the post referendum consultations.

At the launching of the Referendum results in December 2019 in Arawa, you equated the 97.7% to Mt. Wilhelm, the highest mountain in PNG, that is clearly visible and undeniable.

I want to express my very sincere gratitude for your undivided leadership, perseverance and commitment on this journey in giving effect to section 342 of the Constitution which commits both governments to consult on the Referendum results.

I wish to also express my gratitude to the PNG Technical Team under the leadership of Secretary Ivan Pomaleu for your commitment despite other equally demanding agendas of national importance.

At the same time, I wish to acknowledge my own Technical Team under the leadership of the Vice President, the Attorney General and the Chief Secretary for your commitment to crafting the Era Kone Covenant.

As both parties know, section 342 of the Constitution requires both Governments to consult on the referendum results before tabling the results and the consultation outcomes on the floor of the PNG Parliament.     

The Era Kone Covenant is a very significant document as it captures all of the post-referendum consultation outcomes on the finalization of the Referendum results.

Most importantly the Era Kone Covenant states process outcomes and a timeframe for implementing the Referendum results following to the Wabag Road Map.  

A unique feature of the Era Kone Covenant is its dual entrenchment as it comes into force following endorsement of the respective executive councils. Any questions on interpretation and implementation of the Covenant shall be undertaken jointly by the parties through consultations in accordance with part 14 of the Constitution and the Bougainville Peace Agreement.      

Hon Prime Minister, we are now almost at the top of Mt Wilhelm and only need a short distance before we jointly reach the summit, however steep the remaining distance may be.

The following key events in the timeline ahead should be borne in mind so that our Constitutional obligation is completed in a timely manner. First the current ABG Parliament ends in 2025. Secondly the 11th PNG Parliament takes office this year and concludes in 2027. I therefore foresee the tabling of the Referendum Results and the Consultative Outcomes, in 2023, to the National Parliament by the Minister responsible as prescribed in section 342 of the National Constitution and as agreed to in the Wabag Road Map.

In anticipation of independence, my government has already established the Constitutional Planning Commission which will be responsible for drafting the Constitution of an independent Bougainville.

In order for both parties to meet this time line, it is prudent that as the next steps, both parties immediately undertake the following activities:

  1. The Era Kone Covenant be endorsed by the respective executive Councils.
  2. That the Era Kone Covenant be the main agenda at the forthcoming Joint Supervisory Body (JSB).
  3. That the Technical Teams of both Governments immediately begin drafting the Constitutional Regulation for endorsement by the respective executive councils and gazetted before the General Elections.
  4. That the Referendum result and the Consultative Outcomes be brought to the PNG Parliament by the Minister for Bougainville in 2023 in compliance with section 342 of the Constitution.

In compliance with section 342 of the National Constitution, the Referendum results, the Consultative outcomes and the Era Kone Covenant will be brought to the National Parliament in 2023.

Hon Prime Minister, 2023 is therefore going to be a critical year in the implementation of the Referendum results.  

I once again acknowledge your commitment and look forward to meeting the PNG Leaders at the next JSB in Arawa.


Hon Ishmael Toroama - MHR


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