THERE is a strong feeling of patriotism reverberating throughout the Autonomous Region of Bougainville as people become inspired about the prospect of choosing their political future.
“I have always been a strong advocate of participatory democracy where all parties through a consultative and consensually process agree on an issue,” said President John Momis. “In our case, there will be a referendum to decide our political future.
“I have made the call that Bougainvilleans are leaders in their own right, we must not be followers who meekly become passive recipients of change.
“We must actively participate in the referendum process and take responsibility for our actions,” he said.
Dr Momis said all Bougainvilleans must help shoulder the burden that Bougainville is currently bearing and that the people must learn from the mistakes of the past as they work towards the future.
“I have issued the call for unity that is our strongest bargaining position,” he said.
“If we unite the national government, in the eyes of the international community, will have to accept whatever decision we make.
“Bougainvilleans are hard-working people and that should motivate us to stand firm and ensure Bougainville progresses in the right direction.”
Dr Momis said that it is important that Bougainvilleans prepare well for the referendum: they must unite, be fiscally self-reliant, make Bougainville is weapons free, and ensure that good governance prevails.
The Bougainville Peace Agreement is the legal framework that defines the parameters of Bougainville’s move towards forging a new political future.
Dr Momis said there had been long standing animosity between the Bougainville and PNG governments on the implementation of the peace agreement because of development funds owed to Bougainville and the national government’s failure to help in the region’s capacity building.
However both governments had agreed that 15 June 2019 will be the date of the referendum to be held on the future political status of Bougainville.