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The two governments have provided the Bougainville Referendum Commission (BRC) with more detailed information on the two referendum choices: greater autonomy and independence.
BRC Chair Bertie Ahern said the two pages of information supported the conduct of a free and fair vote.
“A credible vote needs to be an informed vote, so we are delighted that the two governments have responded to our concerns and provided more information about what the two options really mean,” Ahern.
“We believe voters are well informed and comfortable with the technical referendum voting process, so the next weeks are really about quality – training polling and counting officials to do their job well, briefing scrutineers and observers so that they can do theirs, and giving voters the information they need to vote in an informed way – no matter which option they decide to choose.”
“People can be proud that the third pillar of the peace process, signed almost 20 years ago, is about to take place.”
“We call on everyone to continue in peace, and respect the democratic right of people to discuss the two options freely and make a choice of their own free will,” He said.
A Description of ‘Greater Autonomy’
A negotiated political settlement that provides for a form of autonomy with greater powers than those currently available under constitutional arrangements. Under the Bougainville Peace Agreement, Bougainville has a high level of autonomy powers for home grown decision-making. When the ABG began in June 2005, all provincial government powers and functions were automatically assumed. Since then, the Autonomous Bougainville Government has assumed additional powers, such as mining. Bougainville has its own constitution, its own political system and its own public service.
Under ‘greater autonomy’, the National Government will continue to support the implementation of the existing autonomy arrangements and provide additional powers and functions to the Bougainville government.
Examples of powers that could be available to Bougainville under ‘greater autonomy’ include:
• Foreign aid and Investment
• International trade and civil aviation
• Migratory and straddling fish stocks, Additional taxation and other revenue-raising powers.
A Description of Independence
An independent nation state with sovereign powers and laws, recognized under international law and by other international states to be an independent state, separate to the state of PNG.
Independence for Bougainville as a nation State with full sovereignty will entail:
• A defined territory, inclusive of maritime boundaries and associated Exclusive Economic Zone
• A form of government chosen by decisions of the people from time to time
• Capacity to enter into and manage relations with other states as well as international organisations
• A right to apply for UN membership
• Capacity to deal with international finance institutions
An independent Bougainville would have the full range of powers and functions exercised by independent states, and in particular the powers necessary to generate its own revenues inclusive of control of natural resources, control of all categories of taxation and ability to raise loans.
Representative Kinds of Powers of an Independent State include:
• Security (including border security)
• Judiciary, including final court of appeal
• Police service
• Foreign affairs
• Telecommunications and postal services
• Central bank.
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