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ABG Attorney General criticizes Australia’s stance on Bougainville Independence

ABG Attorney General and Minister for Bougainville Independence Mission Hon. Ezekiel Masatt has called out Australia for being “a coward when it comes to the Bougainville independence issue”.

Minister Masatt made this statement following Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s response to a question on whether or not PNG should respect the overwhelming free vote of Bougainvilleans and allow Bougainville its independence.

Mr Albanese said, “I’ll say very clearly … I respect PNG’s sovereignty and those issues are a matter for Papua New Guinea.”

Minister Masatt in response, emphasized that Australia is evading its responsibilities under the 2001 Bougainville Peace Agreement.

Minister Masatt further criticized the PNG Government for “breaching the Era Kone Covenant” which was agreed to by both the ABG and National Government in April of 2022.

According to the Era Kone Covenant, the referendum result must be tabled in the National Parliament by no later than the end of 2023. However, the National Parliament's adjournment until 2024 has been described by Minister Masatt as a breach of this commitment.

“In adjourning the Parliament to 2024, PNG is breaching the Era Kone Covenant by not ratifying the independence vote in 2023. And Australia stands beside PNG and says it’s an internal issue.”

“No, it’s not an internal issue, it’s an international issue because Australia, New Zealand, the United Nations and our Melanesian brothers affixed their signatures to the Bougainville Peace Agreement, yet are deliberately avoiding their obligations in holding PNG accountable,” Masatt said.

“Bougainville is not surprised at Australia's endorsement of PNGs games. They supplied the helicopters that PNGDF used to pick up our young Revolutionary fighters and threw them out at sea, some dead, some still alive when thrown out.”

“The Australian Foreign Affairs Minister, during the Peace Negotiations, conned Bougainville Leaders on the Ratification issue, telling them if PNG doesn't ratify, Australia will lead the International Condemnation of PNG,” Masatt reflected.

“Is the Australian PM’s response a condemnation? No. It sounds more like a continuation of the conspiracy. A conspiracy where despite the loss of 20,000 lives, including those thrown from Australian choppers, the narrative is being pushed that the whole Referendum process is an academic exercise and the Referendum Result is Non-Binding.”

“We need international political platforms whence we can argue our case. The deliberate, if not ignorant position adopted by the foreign signatories is because of their inability to grasp the fact that the greatest unknown was the referendum result. Up until the declaration of the referendum result, everyone could exercise neutrality, but not after the result is known.”

Masatt emphasized the need for these countries to move beyond their neutrality and actively support the implementation of the referendum result.

“They should now assist in implementing the referendum result. Instead they continue with their neutrality nonsense and aid PNG’s position that the results are non-binding and that the National Parliament somehow has mysteriously found out it has veto powers.”

“This nonsense from the foreign country signatories to the Bougainville Peace Agreement must stop before it is too late.”

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