Bougainville Peace Agreement about peace, not unity – Lera

PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill. Picture: RNZ

A member of the Papua New Guinea government has challenged the approach of prime minister Peter O’Neill to the Bougainville referendum.

The autonomous region of Bougainville is to hold a vote on possible independence from PNG next year – a step that marks the culmination of a 20 year peace process.

But Mr O’Neill this week told parliament former leaders would not want the country divided up, saying he would not want to let Bougainville go.

He spoke of the need for unity and stability but the Bougainville regional MP, Joe Lera, said the Peace Agreement is about enhancing peace and doesn’t talk about unity.

“The bottom line is the issue of independence is part of the Peace Agreement. So, for the prime minister to base his comments on unity, the unity is not in the Peace Agreement. But I understand where he is coming from because he doesn’t want the country to break up,” he said.

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