UN Congratulates National Government and the ABG for establishing the Bougainville Referendum Commission
Port Moresby, 24 January 2017 – The historic signing ceremony for the establishment of the new Bougainville Referendum Commission (BRC) was held on 24th of January 2017 at the Prime Minister’s Office, Manasupe House Waigani, Port Moresby.
Under the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) signed between the Government of PNG and Leaders of Bougainville in 2001, the peace partners agreed to have a referendum on the political future of Bougainville by 2020. This signing paves the way for the independent institution to plan, prepare and execute the electoral event. At the ceremony, the milestone documents signed were the Agreement and the Administration Arrangement for the establishment of the BRC.
The two documents were passed by the National Executive Council, Cabinet and the Attorney General’s Office and set in motion the creation of the independent institution to work in liaison with both governments towards the Bougainville Referendum. The Agreement and Arrangement were signed by the PNG Commissioner of Elections Patilias Gamato and Bougainville Electoral Commissioner George Manu and countersigned by Chief Secretary Ambassador Isaac Lupari and ABG Chief Secretary Joseph Nobetau. This groundbreaking event follows as the outcome of the peace partners Joint Supervisory Board meeting of May 2016 where a target referendum date of 15 June 2019 and the referendum plan were agreed.
The ceremony was attended by the Minister for Bougainville Affairs Hon. Jo Lera, Minister for Communications Hon. Jimmy Miringtoro and Bougainville South National MP Hon. Timothy Masiu. The ABG was represented by the Vice President and Minister for Referendum Hon. Patrick Nasira, Secretary for Referendum, Veterans and Peace James Tanis and Secretary for Public Service and Justice Kenneth Nenai.
Development partners from the UN, Australian High Commission, European Union and New Zealand High Commission were also present at the signing ceremony.
PNGs Minister Lera and ABGs Vice President Nasira in their speeches praised the UNs role so far in the Referendum process saying it was greatly appreciated as the UN has significant global experience in conducting and supporting referendum processes. The ABG Chief Secretary Joseph Nobetau also said it was critical to adhere to the UN guidelines for a credible referendum process. Ambassador Isaac Lupari said with the signing of these milestone documents, the other two BPA pillars of Weapons Disposal and Good Governance must now be fully addressed to pave the way for the referendum. The UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative, Roy Trivedy congratulated both governments for achieving this historical milestone. He emphasized the UN/UNDP’s willingness to continue to support effective implementation of the BPA.