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Memories of the nearly 20,000 lives lost in the 10-year Bougainville crisis, and the determination of the people to begin their lives anew, flooded back as two leaders shed tears in front of the people.
Prime Minister James Marape and Bougainville President Ishmael Toroama, both children of missionaries – one crossing the mountains of the Highlands region, the other crossing the swamps of Western – and both grew up in Christian homes, stood on stage to witness the latter’s inauguration in Buka Tuesday.
When the national anthem was sung, Marape reminisced on the people who had suffered much yet were determined to embrace peace in dealing with the aftermath of the Bougainville crisis.
Acting Chief Secretary Isaac Lupari said the two leaders would discuss in the coming months the path ahead before the first joint supervisory body meeting in November.
“The crisis and its effects are not lost on them,” he said.
Toroama said the PNG Government had “caused us immense pain and suffering”.
“But you have helped us in restoring our lives and you are helping us to rebuild our government systems and institutions,” he said.
“We have reconciled and buried our differences as true Melanesian people.
“However, a lot more needs to be done to help Bougainville people live a comfortable life.
“Bougainville and PNG will walk the journey together side by side and help Bougainville to reach its destiny which was sanctioned by the blood of 20,000 lives.”
Marape said: “It has been a long road to the restoration and maintenance of peace and search for prosperity for Bougainville and PNG.
“And I am fully committed to working with Toroama in finding a path that is truly a blessing for both PNG and Bougainville.
“I look forward to Toroama appointing his cabinet and for our first meeting where we can carve out the next phase in accordance with the intent of the 2001 Bougainville Peace Agreement.”...PACNEWS
Meanwhile, both Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville President-elect Ishmael Toroama will discuss the programmes for the joint supervisory body (JSB) meeting in November.
Bougainville Affairs Minister Sir Dr Puka Temu said this was the first government after the referendum and the national government would support the president and his team as they worked on the most important part of the peace agreement which was the post-referendum consultation process.
“Both leaders will discuss and set the pace and the programmes, we are proposing the first JSB meeting in November and then they will agree to the proposed timetable of next year’s consultation with the referendum results,” he said.
Toroama said he and his government were ready for consultation.
“It will be a matter that will be discussed when we start consultations and it’s all in the peace agreement but we don’t know what the time frame is for the consultation, but I am prepared with my government to consult with the national government, especially on this issue that has cost a lot of lives in Bougainville and like I said, it is up to the consultation process to decide whatever outcome will be, then, we will settle everything in Bougainville.”
Sir Puka said having the consultation process before the national elections in 2022 was important and post-referendum JSB meetings were essential for the national government before a new PNG government was formed.
“We have prepared for three consultations next year and it is up to the president (Toroama) and the PM (James Marape) to agree before the end of the year, we are recommending two meetings in the mainland and one in Bougainville,” Sir Puka said. “Those three consultations will set the pace for both leaders to decide and the two leaders will decide on post 2021 consultations.”.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS
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