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The United Nations Security Council in New York is closely following the progress of the Bougainville referendum, says Bougainville Referendum Commission chairman Bertie Ahern.
He said during the community roadshow in Arawa, Central Bougainville that he was in New York last week to update UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterress on the developments in Bougainville.
“I was pleased to know that the Guterress, who I know because he was the Prime Minister of Portugal when I was Prime Minister of Ireland, knew what (we) are doing. And a lot of the different departments and agencies in New York knew as well. We want their support in achieving a successful referendum.”
Ahern and six commissioners are currently in Bougainville for a weeklong community roadshow.
The roadshow was organised by the commission and the UN to inform people of the progress of the referendum. It gives people the opportunity to ask questions to the commissioners on the preparations of the referendum, and to clarify anything they are unclear about.
The main issues addressed during the awareness include voter registration, eligibility and a possible extension of the referendum date.
Ahern encouraged everyone in Bougainville to register to vote in the referendum.
“It is important that this opportunity is taken,” he said.
“It takes us time to organise this and put a lot of money into it. It is an honour for me to oversee that this is a successful referendum.
“This referendum is an opportunity for the future, your children’s future, your grandchildren’s future, the future of Bougainville.”
He assured Bougainvilleans that the commission was a neutral body and would conduct a free and fair referendum.
“I am aware that there are people who are worried about some of the issues. But I want to assure you that our job is to make this referendum free and fair,” he said.
“Nobody tells me what to do. I’m not influenced by ABG or PNG governments.
“I’m influenced by my colleagues who are independent, who understand the issue of history.”
The two questions to be asked are: 1) Independence and 2) Greater Autonomy.
“You decide. We only organise,” he said.
The six commissioners are Ruby Mirinka, George Manu, Patrick Nisira, Robert Igara, Dr Thomas Webster and Patilias Gamato.
SOURCE: THE NATIIONAL/PACNEWS
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