Bougainville may use other means to gain independence 

Mount Bagana, Bougainville

The Autonomous Bougainville Government(ABG) is warning it might use other avenues to gain its independence should the PNG government continue to be mischievous in dealing with the Bougainville Independence agenda. 

The warning was sounded by ABG Attorney General and Independence Implementation Minister Ezekiel Massat just as the ABG delegation headed to Port Moresby for the Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) meeting with the National Government. 

The Bougainville delegation led by the President Ishmael Toroama will meet with the National Government Wednesday to discuss the ratification process outlined in the Bougainville Peace Agreement and the constitution. 

Massat said that there had been events that had happened which Bougainville had not been consulted on by the National Government consequently defeating the purpose of the Bougainville Peace Agreement. 

He exemplified the appointment of Police Assistant Commissioner, Anthony Wagambie Jr and the current JSB meeting which was called and changed by the National Government without consulting ABG. 

“While the ABG will be participating, it wants to see the two parties set into motion the resolution from the last JSB, for the parties to agree to call in a moderator to try to resolve the impasse over how results from the 2019 Referendum will be tabled and ratified by the National Parliament,” Massat said. 

He said that this was the only issue where both sides continued to hold extremely conflicting views. Massat, however, said that the ABG also does not want the National Government to rush the tabling of the Referendum Result until both sides complete a Joint Consultation Report that will outline all outcomes of the previous consultations that had taken place after the referendum. 

“The ABG will be suspicious if the National Government wants to move on with tabling the Referendum Results without having the Joint Consultations Report accompany it.” 

At the same time, the ABG demands that a bi-partisan committee be established comprising National and Bougainville members to urgently communicate awareness about the Bougainville issue and independence agenda to all members of parliament in the National Parliament before the voting on the ratification. 

Massat described the lack of consultation of the National Government might create “suspicion and mistrust” and Bougainville might be forced to pursue other legal means to achieve the Bougainville people’s dreams of independence as shown in overwhelming majority votes in the referendum. 

Meanwhile, Bouganiville Affairs Minister Manasseh Makiba has described Post-Courier’s front page story regarding a meeting between Bougainville and National Government leaders as “sensationalised” and without substance. 

He said the report is the work of individuals with vested interests and was designed to derail the progress made so far in line with the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA). 

He also announced that the Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) meeting scheduled for Monday was postponed to tomorrow (Wednesday) because agendas were not furnished on time by the joint technical team (JTT) headed by the Chief Secretary and his Bougainvillean counterpart Kearneth Nanei. 

“The restoration development grants, Bougainville Copper Ltd shares, and fisheries revenue sharing agreement were matters being dealt with by the joint technical team due to the technical and legal nature of the process,” Makiba said. 

“The joint technical team comprises departmental heads and technical professionals from both the National Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) who will conduct consultations before jointly drawing up agendas for the JSB to deliberate.” 

Makiba said the system currently in place through the joint technical team is very transparent and allows for constructive discussions from both sides before it gets to the political level. 

“Any disagreement or issues relating to any sticky subjects are resolved at that committee level. 

“To suggest or imply that the government is bulldozing matters or turning a deaf ear to any issue is an understatement,” Makiba said.  

He urged the two parties to respect the peace agreement.