Miriori: PM not sensitive to Bougainville issues

PORT MORESBY, 10 MAY 2018 (POST COURIER) – Former community leader Martin Miriori says Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has not been sensitive in publicly releasing information on other implications of the requirements relating to next year’s Bougainville referendum.

He made reference to the PM’s comments in Brisbane, Australia, recently regarding the referendum not being strictly about independence.

“When the Prime Minister comes out openly making such a statement in public in my view he is already undermining the good intentions and the spirit of the Bougainville Peace Agreement that among other issues very clearly states that the issue of independence for Bougainville will be among the options for a referendum vote to be taken by the people come June next year,” said Miriori.

“This is also the common understanding of the international community as well including the United Nations and for the PM to water down the main focus on the independence issue at this time is simply a big slap on the face to the people of Bougainville.”

Miriori said such statement is not only unfair but it undermines the credibility and the confidence of the Bougainvilleans in the PNG political leadership.

He said Bougainvilleans must not lose trust and confidence at all cost and must fully commit themselves towards achieving lasting peace by peaceful means.

He said there has been silence on the issue of weapons disposal because there has not been any harm instigated since the signing of the ceasefire in Arawa in April 1998 and the peaceful and orderly elections conducted during both the national and ABG elections.

Meanwhile, the Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) meeting that was scheduled for this month has now been postponed to next month.

This was revealed by Chief Secretary Joseph Nobetau in his weekly radio program update on NBC Bougainville this week.

“We are currently waiting on advice from the Prime Minister of his availability, but symbolically we would like to see the JSB happening in Arawa around ABG Day in June,” said Nobetau.

Chief among the agenda items are for the two governments to reach an agreement on the question for the referendum and the eligibility criteria.

“There will be a lot for the two leaders to discuss. Some of the issues will include formalisation of the Bougainville Referendum Commission chair, agreement on the approach for the second autonomy review, continued weapons disposal work, agreement on calculations and progress of fisheries revenue, the restoration and development grant and discussions on a possible economic development summit proposed to be held in the second half of this year” he explained.

In terms of preparations, Nobetau commended Bougainville’s technical team for the in-depth and consultative work done on the different agenda items for discussion.

“I am satisfied with the work done by the ABG technical team and I am confident that our political leaders will be well prepared and supported so that the decisions that come out of the JSB are in the best interest of the people,” he said.

The JSB is the most senior body for considering and resolving issues related to the peace process in Bougainville.

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