PNG Opposition in force at Bougainville referendum meet

PNG Opposition leaders went in force in Port Moresby yesterday and attended the Bougainville referendum conference organised by the National Research Institute. Picture: POST-COURIER

PORT MORESBY – Papua New Guinea Opposition leaders went in force in Port Moresby Tuesday and attended the Bougainville referendum conference organised by the National Research Institute.

The leaders said that their presence was not to politicise the issue, but to show that this was a very important issue as prioritised and that needed attention because of the implications it will have on PNG, Bougainville and the Pacific.

Moresby Northwest MP Sir Mekere Morauta, who was prime minister at the time the Bougainville Peace Agreement was signed in Arawa in August 2002, led the team which also included Madang Open MP Bryan Kramer, Northern Governor Gary Juffa, Nuku MP Joe Sungi and Sinasina-Yongomugl MP Kerenga Kua to name a few. South Bougainville MP Timothy Masiu was also present at the conference.

They engaged in the debates and presented their views on issues pertaining to Bougainville and this is summary of their views:

Nuku MP Joe Sungi said: “Having 12 months to go – I wish the Government gave the same treatment given to Bougainville as that of APEC – Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation.”

Madang MP Bryan Kramer said this was a complicated issue to deal with, contentious but was important to look at going forward.

“It is the process, right now it is not Papua New Guinea’s choice, it’s the process that decision is in Bougainville and they haven’t made that choice. Going forward, we should focus on the process – Bougainville has the first right to make that decision, they haven’t made that decision.”

Northern Governor Gary Juffa spoke about the important stakeholders left out – Australian Government and BCL including late Francis Ona. He stressed that the amount of attention to this very important historic issue was demanding and that “we need to pay a lot more attention –and dedicate more resources.”

Kua talked about the approach to take and how one must and needed to understand the situation.

“History has shown that if you want a stable country, you don’t run it on two or three speed where it has equal distribution of political power,” he said.