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Bougainville chief secretary reports on referendum progress

Joseph Nobetau
Joseph Nobetau - top bureaucrat assures everything on track for 15 June 2019 independence referendum

ANTHONY KAYBING

BUKA - The Autonomous Bougainville Government is making significant progress in its preparations for the referendum on its political future on 15 June next year.

Chief secretary Joseph Nobetau said the public service has achieved a number of key goals including finalising the question to be put at the referendum, defining voting criteria, establishing the Bougainville Referendum Commission and promoting public awareness.

“There are also continuing efforts to address peace and stability, including weapons disposal and reconciliation.

“We are also in dialogue with national and international partners,” Mr Nobetau said.

“We must ensure that both the PNG national government and ABG are engaged in the referendum process and supporting the Bougainville Referendum Commission to do its job.”

“A key focus in the next six months will also be on Bougainville’s long term political future.”

Mr Nobetau noted the need for continued engagement with the national government on constitutionally guaranteed funds and other aspects of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

“Without funding it is not possible to deliver the key priorities of the government,” the chief secretary said. “It is essential that the issues of arrears and restoration and development grants be resolved as soon as possible.”

Over the last three months the Bougainville public service has continue to work on referendum awareness in partnership with the United Nations and the Bougainville Referendum Commission.

It is also scoping a regional security mission to support the referendum and the post referendum transition period, including the establishment of a referendum transitional taskforce.

Priorities over coming months will focus on the finalisation of the referendum roll, ensuring availability of funds, enhancing awareness and continued engagement between the two governments on the post referendum transitionary period.

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