Polls vital to vote for leaders to fight for independence: says Bougainville AG

Photo: Autonomous Bougainville Government/Facebook

A total of 161,737 eligible voters in Bougainville are expected to participate in a by-election in October this year.

The two electorates are North and South Bougainville.

The poll in North Bougainville will be to elect a national representative in the Papua New Guinea National Parliament. The seat was left vacant when the then sitting MP, late William Nakin passed on in 2021. He was the member of the Papua New Guinea’s National Alliance Party.  

In South Bougainville Electorate, the by-election is to elect a new member for the current vacant veteran’s seat in the Autonomous Bougainville Government’s House of representative (ABGHoR) after the then sitting MP, late Thomas Tarii died in July this year.

The late Veterans’ MP was a commander of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army’s (BRA) South faction during the height of the Bougainville Conflict from 1989 to 1996. He was instrumental in bringing peace to parts of South Bougainville. In 2018, the late veteran’s leader actively took part in the United Nations (UN) supervised weapon disposal program that paved the way for the successful conduct of the Bougainville Referendum in 2019.

Polling will start on 30 October in the North while the South polling is scheduled to start on 23 October.

Bougainville’s Attorney General (AG) and the Minister for Bougainville’s Independence Mission, Ezekiel Masatt says, the national polling in the North particularly is crucial to choose a leader who can bravely speak on the critical issue regarding the independence aspiration for Bougainville.

“PNG Parliament has 118 MPs. With our 4 MPs united to support our cause, we don’t have the number to do so.” He says.

He also says the poll in North Bougainville will require the people to make a crucial decision to vote for leaders who can lobby for independence. 

“The best leader must lobby in parliament to muster the required numbers in Parliament to vote in support of independence for the region.

Bougainvilleans in the recent 2019 Referendum had voted 97.7 percent overwhelmingly to break away from the rest of the country as a separate nation.