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Bougainville and Papua New Guineans must accept that the National Parliament will make the final decision to decide the new political future for Bougainville after Referendum and that will be a negotiated outcome.
This is from Bougainville Affairs Minister Sir Puka Temu after responding to a series of questions raised by Deputy Opposition Leader and Rabaul MP Dr Allan Marat.
Marat questioned the procedures of ratification of the Bougainville Referendum results, how Parliament will deal with and its preparedness of the process, the methods used and on what timeframe for consultation and ratification.
“Will the results be ratified by general consensus of endorsement, of approval, of acceptance of result or will the National Parliament conduct another referendum on the floor of this Parliament on a YES or NO vote by each Member of this Parliament,” Dr Marat asked.
“If the people overwhelmingly vote for Greater Autonomy, it will be easy to manage the post referendum period but if the people on the island of Bougainville overwhelmingly vote for independence, will this Parliament pass a law (Bougainville Independence Act) to grant independence similarly to what the Australian Parliament did when granting independence to Papua New Guinea in 1975,” he asked.
Sir Puka responded that the Government had requested the United Nations to help with the process, establish negotiation teams for both sides, and appoint an internationally recognized moderator who will be engaged on call and assist whenever.
“At this stage when we come back for the November Sitting of Parliament we have now engaged the United Nations to help us to process the ratification so that is now work on progress, so very Member of Parliament both on Opposition and Government, we will be undertaking a “How do we go through the ratification process” programme on the floor of parliament.
“So I have requested the UN to help us do that with the process. At this stage, what we are going through, what we are call a Post Referendum Ministerial task force, co-chaired by myself and my counterpart from Bougainville. We are now preparing on post referendum consultations.
Once the results are announced and the nation knows the results, the process is already very clear in the law, and then what we are preparing now is for both, the national government and the ABG to start organising themselves on their own negotiating teams.
So we will establish our negotiating team made up of people with high level of credibility with status, seniority and ABG will do the same.
“Unfortunately during this important courses of the post referendum, the fourth ABG election will take place, the writs will be issues on the 27 March next year and the new government, the 4th ABG will come in on June 2020 and so as you can recall, writs return, 40 days of dispute period and that will be February, by then ABG leaders will be preparing the elections, so we are now managing through the ministerial task force, the consultation period. What we have agreed is that we will establish a permanent secretariat that will service both the negotiating teams, now the DPM has already approved a Secretariat structure which I will bring to Cabinet very soon for budget appropriation in the November Sitting of Parliament, to be fully catered for, manpower as well as funding.
“Because the Bougainville Peace Agreement is non-binding, it means the ratification results will not come raw because it’s a non-binding referendum.
“That means that the BPA, the new political future for Bougainville after Referendum to be a negotiated outcome. Whatever the negotiated outcome is, that outcome will then come to the floor of parliament. It is that negotiated outcome that will be ratified by the parliament, not the raw result, it will be a negotiated outcome.
How do we manage the process of ratification, will we vote for it? or is it 2/3 majority vote? How long will that take? That is really unpredictable because what we must all subscribe to is the spirit of the Bougainville Peace Agreement…through all peaceful means….no way we are going back to conflict.
“And while we are waiting we must accept and allow what the leaders who signed the 2001 BPA they recognised that the parliament will make the final decision…all of us must accept that and that’s how but politics will come in.
“So how long will we negotiate I can’t predict it and so right at this stage we are now processing global experience all over the world and at the same time we have agreed we will have an internationally recognised moderator whom we will engage whenever we need that moderator,” he said.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS
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