BOUGAINVILLE president John Momis says the people should not worry about the result of the independence referendum scheduled for 2019 but pay more attention to the processes that lead to it.
“The first thing that we must worry about is to ensure our preparation is credible and follows democratic principles,” he told a workshop of women leaders.
“There are no short cuts to achieving Bougainville’s aspirations to realise a political future that the people desire, only the Bougainville Peace Agreement is the way forward for Bougainville,” Dr Momis said.
He warned that short cuts will risk the future of Bougainville and that the implementation of the peace agreement remains the prerogative of the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the national government.
“The leaders of both governments must understand the Bougainville Peace Agreement,” he said.
“It is not only an agreement about service delivery but about building a new government and about how the national government must support the efforts by the people of Bougainville as they determine their political future,” he said
He emphasised the need for the Bougainville people and government to start planning and preparing for a successful referendum outcome.
His paramount message to the women leaders was the unity of the people of Bougainville.
“Unity does not mean uniformity,” he said. “We can have diverse cultures and belief systems but we must all be united in the belief that Bougainville will achieve its political ambitions.
“I challenge the women leaders and the people of Bougainville to have the ambition to energise the people to unite and work together to make informed decisions in the referendum.
“We must have this heroic ambition to stand up and make the right decision that does not marginalise our people.
“Every Bougainvillean is a leader in their own right and we must not become followers who meekly follow others without thinking for ourselves.
“We must unite, stand together and work with optimism towards a successful referendum,” Dr Momis said.