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The second phase of the voter enrollment exercise currently underway in Bougainville has been extended to June 23 by the Bougainville Referendum Commission.
This is to ensure all eligible voters have enough time to register and the extension is also due to the overwhelming response from Bougainvilleans to the enrollment exercise.
This is according to Chief Referendum Officer, Mauricio Claudio who called on Bougainvilleans to continue to support their ward recorders to ensure all eligible voters were registered and that a comprehensive roll was developed for the referendum.
“The commission had anticipated that it would take two weeks to conduct this second phase of enrollment but we have since decided to give an extension to give ward recorders more time to enrol all interested voters,” he said.
“We must all work together to produce a high quality and inclusive referendum roll according to the rules and regulations,” he added.
Enrollment for non-resident Bougainvilleans started on June 15 in the National Capital District and will start this week for the other provinces.
“Bougainvilleans living elsewhere in PNG can enrol at their respective PNG Electoral Comission offices,” the Chief Referendum Officer clarified.
Claudio confirmed that the BRC was conducting its business according to set procedures agreed to by both the PNG and Bougainville governments in respect to the laws governing the referendum.
“The BRC is acting as a neutral umpire to ensure the referendum is conducted freely and fairly and people can be confident that the referendum is being conducted in full accordance of the laws set out by the two governments and the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
“The date, the question on the referendum ballot paper, the commission charter and the voter eligibility criteria are all established by the two governments in accordance with the peace agreement, the national constitution, the Bougainville constitution and the Organic Law on Peace Building.
“As the referendum roll is a different roll to the ones used for the ABG and national elections, we encourage all eligible voters to register their names,” he further clarified.
Claudio explained that after the phase two enrollment exercise, a preliminary referendum roll would be developed and then displayed in all wards for people to check their names before the referendum roll was finalised.
Meanwhile, it is crucial Bougainvilleans enrol to determine their political future according to the National Research Institute (NRI).
Papua New Guinea NRI Bougainville Referendum research project leader Thomas Webster made this announcement on the NBC radio talkback show.
Webster said there were two options in the referendum: one was to remain as a part of PNG but in a more autonomous arrangement and the other option was to be an independent state.
Webster said the preparation of the enrolment rolls would be completed this week and the referendum roll compiled.
The writs would be issued on Aug 16 and polling on Oct 12 in which Webster said that quite a lot of work had to be done in limited time.
“This process will require the participation and cooperation of everyone, particularly Bougainvilleans,” Webster said.
“This is the second phase of the face-to-face enrollment and everyone is encouraged to get registered on this referendum roll where in the first enrollment phase was just to make sure the Autonomous Bougainville government roll was updated.”
He said Bougainvilleans outside PNG must also enrol.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS
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