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A Bougainville Referendum Commission (BRC) team will depart this week for Cairns and Brisbane with enrolment forms and is likely to receive a warm welcome from the Bougainvillean Associations in both locations.
Chief referendum officer Mauricio Claudio said the overseas enrolment effort was an historic occasion for PNG to offer people living overseas enrolment in an electoral process.
“The BRC, by its decision to extend enrolment of Bougainvilleans living in Honiara, Gizo, Cairns and Brisbane, has raised the bar for participation in this democratic process,” Claudio said.
“The commission has had to strike the right balance between making enrolment available to Bougainvilleans living overseas within the given timeframe and resources, and the need to maintain a secure process where only eligible people are enrolled in accordance with the laws.”
The commission earlier forewarned that given the expected limited enrolments and resources available, only a few days would be available in each location.
“The time will be short, and people should prepare themselves to be at enrolment centres on time,” Claudio said.
“We’ve been in close contact with Bougainville Associations since the decision to extend enrolment to the four overseas locations, and we have been very grateful for the on the liaison being provided by these well organised local networks.”
The BRC understands some Bougainvilleans may miss out, either because PNG citizenship is required to enrol, or because they have lived far and wide in other locations around the world.
“The laws do not allow for electronic voting, and the commission is not confident that electronic voting would create a secure roll – we believe this decision will open enrolment to as many Bougainvilleans as possible.”
The voter eligibility criteria established by the two governments for non-resident Bougainvilleans, or those outside Bougainville, are:
– Have links to Bougainville either by birth, adoption, marriage, or clan;
– Be born on or before 12 October 2001;
– Are a PNG citizen; and
– Are entitled to vote in PNG National Elections.
People must satisfy all criteria. People must be a PNG citizen and cannot be a dual citizen.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS
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