Embarking on writing a new Bougainville Constitution

Photo: Autonomous Bougainville Government

The Bougainville Constitutional Planning Commission has conducted a consultation with Bougainvilleans in Lae on matters regarding the country’s constitution.

The commission was represented by vice president of the Autonomous Bougainville Government Patrick Nisira and Minister for Independence Mission Implementation and the Attorney General Ezekiel Masatt, who is also the commission’s deputy chairperson.

The commission said the purpose of the consultation is to take account of the opinions and inputs by Bougainvilleans living in Lae in order to produce the first draft of an autochthonous constitution, meaning a constitution that will be native to Bougainville to be an independent nation.

The consultation is part of Bougainville’s desire to be an independent from Papua New Guinea following the 2019 referendum that had 97.7 per cent of its people voting for independence.

Masatt said: “We are in Lae at the moment because we have decided that apart from consultation with Bougainvilleans in Bougainville, there is a need to consult with Bougainvilleans outside of Bougainville.

“For Bougainville, one of the activities that the two governments have agreed to is to write its own constitution.

At the moment we are in an autonomous arrangement that has its own constitution.

“In preparation for that next phase of independence, the two governments have agreed that we must embark on writing a new autochthonous constitution for that independent nation Bougainville.

“That’s the exercise we are doing at the moment.

“We will start engaging today with the Bougainvillean community in Lae.

The commission mandate is up to the beginning of 2025.

We are getting instruction which will result in having the first draft of the constitution to come out.”

 Nisira said: “Once we get the first draft, we will then do another round of consultation both in Bougainville and outside of Bougainville.”

“Our timeline in terms of the constitutional work is the first quarters of 2025 were the constitution will then be handed to a constituent assembly.” They have invited the AROB community in Lae to have a say on the constitutional matters and encouraged written submissions to also be made through their (BCPC) website.