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Leaders concerned over challenges after Bougainville referendum, urged to capitalise on voting rights
8:30 pm GMT+12, 20/10/2019, Papua New Guinea

 Community leaders’ level in South Bougainville have raised their concerns on the socio-economic and political challenges that Bougainville will face after the referendum.
 
The leaders made known their concerns during the Bougainville post referendum dialogue in Buin over the weekend.
 
Significant challenges include creating a fiscally self-reliant Bougainville, issues on good governance, security and welfare of the people, infrastructure development and a political structure that will succeed the current autonomous arrangements.
 
The immediacy of creating a revenue stream remains the paramount concern of the leaders who see fiscal self-reliance as one of the important factors that will directly impact an independent Bougainville.
 
Concerns were aired also regarding issue of postponing the ABG general elections, draw down of outstanding powers and functions and the possibility of non-ratification of the referendum by the national government.
 
These challenges are linked to the key scenarios that will result from short falls of the current autonomy implementation which remains outstanding and can be captured during the negotiations and transition work plan of the ABG.
 
As part of the dialogue the primary aim is to manage these issues within the parameters of international standards of good governance so the credibility of the referendum is retained.
 
Meanwhile, Bougainvilleans are being urged to capitalise on their right to vote in the referendum and maximise voter turnout to give the ABG a stronger bargaining power during negotiations.
 
In the last 20 years Bougainville has exhibited a disappointing turnout in voting in national and Autonomous Bougainville Government elections where in some cases there is less than 50 per cent voter turnout.
 
Since the signing of the Bougainville Peace Agreement the elections after 2001 have been as follows; national general election 2002, per cent, ABG elections 2005, per cent, national general election 2007 per cent, ABG By-election 2008, per cent, ABG election 2010, per cent, national general election 2012 per cent.
 
This information was collated by the department of peace agreement implementation (DPAI) from available electoral information.
 
Internal Affairs officer with DPAI, Kotrifa Nanopa said the referendum poll is an opportunity for Bougainvilleans through their vote to empower their leaders at the negotiations at the post referendum period.
 
With the current voter registry for the referendum polls around 221,000 eligible voters, Bougainville can attain a stronger political outcome through their desires through the ballot in November.
 
There is overwhelming support for the independence agenda for Bougainville and this option can only be achieved with preferably a 95 per cent majority choice for option two which is Independence.

SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS


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