ABG rejects national government call for nationwide consultation
The Autonomous Bougainville Government has rejected Prime Minister James Marape’s statement calling for a nationwide consultation on Bougainville’s 2019 Referendum for Independence results.
The ABG’s response is to Prime Minister James Marape’s inaugural statement delivered in the National Parliament following his election as Prime Minister on August 9, 2022.
The Autonomous Bougainville Government maintains that ratification of the 2019 Bougainville Referendum on Independence will be done by the National Parliament to play and does not require the citizens of Papua New Guinea to be consulted on the matter.
ABG Attorney General and Minister for Bougainville Independence Mission Implementation Ezekiel Masatt delivered this statement in a press conference yesterday in Buka.
Minister Masatt clarified that there is no legal basis for the proposed nationwide consultation that the Prime Minister has alluded to. The provisions of the Organic Law on Peace Building and the 2001 Bougainville Peace Agreement required the people of Bougainville hold a constitutionally guaranteed referendum where in 2019, 97.7 percent of Bougainvilleans voted for independence.
“Per the requirements of the same laws, the ABG and the National Government are the only two parties that will consult on the overwhelming 97.7 percent outcome of the referendum, there is no mention of a nationwide consultation on the matter” Minister Masatt stated.
Minister Masatt further reminded the Prime Minister Marape that the 2001 Bougainville Peace Agreement was signed to end the Bougainville Civil War which was the bloodiest conflict in the pacific region since the World War II.
“The BPA was to promote peace by peaceful means and address the issue of Bougainville’s political future, with independence being a constitutionally guaranteed option,” Masatt said.
“The definition of independence was defined and agreed to by PNG, as a separate and independent nation from PNG. Independence was overwhelmingly voted for by 97.7 percent of Bougainvilleans.” Masatt said.
“That is the referendum result and by law, only the two governments can consult on independence being the referendum outcome however the national government has been using such terms as political status and political solution to an extent where they have misconceived the original definition,” Masatt said.
Masatt said it has become clear that the National Government lacks the institutional memory to fully understand the intentions of the 2001 Bougainville Peace Agreement and urged the national government to stick to the agreements reached by both Governments in the joint consultations.
The Joint Government Consultations on the Bougainville Referendum Result which started in May 2021, culminated in the Era Kone Covenant which was signed by the two governments in May this year.
The Era Kone Covenant is the document that provides for the pathway in which the referendum results will be brought into the National Parliament for final ratification. “It has been agreed that independence will be no earlier than 2025 and no later than 2027. Let me make it absolutely clear, that Bougainville will be independent,” Masatt stated.
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