BOUGAINVILLE president John Momis, just back from hospitalisation in the Philippines, says the people of the autonomous province have a dream to create a new socio-economic political and moral order as they stand on the threshold of a referendum on independence.
An energised Dr Momis said the dream is within the reach of the Bougainville people but they first have a responsibility to implement the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
“Undeniably, we have problems on Bougainville but we have also achieved a lot since the inception of the Autonomous Bougainville Government,” Dr Momis said. “We now have the power to develop our own education and health policies and others such as finance and mining.”
Dr Momis said the ABG faced a lack of technical capacity to develop these policies.
But he was optimistic that Bougainville will thrive as the autonomous region moves into the future.
“Unity is the essence of our success and the problems are not impossible to overcome.
“Unity does not mean uniformity, it must be an all-inclusive engagement of all Bougainvilleans who must have a say on our political future come the referendum,” he said.
He cautioned that people must be realistic in their expectations of the outcome of the referendum.
“Everything depends on how hard we work to achieve a favourable outcome of the referendum; we cannot dream of the impossible while we remain complacent and not work hard for it,” he said.
“We must have faith and own the process of the referendum so we can legitimately own an outcome that is credible and accepted by all Bougainvilleans and respected by the international community.”
Meanwhile, the ABG’s chief secretary, Joseph Nobetau, has said Dr Momis considers public service reform to be a critical priority for ensuring that Bougainville delivers on the Bougainville Peace Agreement and the people’s expectations.
Mr Nobetau said Dr Momis was disappointed with some aspects of recent progress and that he wanted to see all members of the executive rise to the challenge of progressing reform to ensure that Bougainville continues on the path to autonomy ahead of the 2019 referendum.
“It is clear that the President maintains very strong views regarding the need for enhancing governance and discipline across the public service, Mr Nobetau said. “As chief secretary, I stand ready to work with my colleagues to heal any divisions that may have occurred during his absence so that we can deliver on the president’s very clear expectations.”
President Momis has been a constant and unifying figure throughout Bougainville’s modern history and has played a critical leadership role in progressing the Bougainville Peace Agreement and leading Bougainville on the path to autonomy.
Photo: Dr John Momis with journalists during his first press conference last Friday after his return the previous day. The president has thanked the people of Bougainville and Papua New Guinea who thought of him in their prayers during his time in hospital in the Philippines. Doctors have given him a clean bill of health and he said he was ready to get back to working with the people as they prepare for the upcoming referendum