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Bougainville Affairs Minister Sir Puka Temu says it will be necessary to amend the National Constitution and that of Bougainville if the National Parliament agrees to either of the options on the ballot-paper — greater autonomy or independence for Bougainville.
Sir Puka said this would require the preparation and presentation of submissions to the national and Bougainville executive councils, drafting of amendments to relevant constitutional laws, and then presentation, debate, and the support of the two-thirds absolute majorities required.
Such a process would take time.
“Following the vote, if the National Parliament agrees to either greater autonomy or independence for Bougainville, it is important for interested parties to be aware that it will be necessary to amend the constitution and other laws,” he said.
“It is vital that every effort is made to maintain and keep building peace.
“In this regard, it is important to note, that the referendum is best understood as a process.
“Quite apart from (and additional to) the politics involved, a constitutional amendment to change the ABG’s legal status requires publication in advance of being moved in the National Parliament.
“It requires presentation at two separate sessions of Parliament — at least two months apart; opportunity for debate; and then a final vote, publication, and implementation.
“Depending on what Parliament decides, the last step, in particular, might take quite some time — based on experience, I would imagine not just months but possibly years,” said Temu
Meanwhile, the presence of weapons in Bougainville continues to be a major concern to the national government, Bougainville government and local communities, many of which were affected during the conflict.
Bougainville Affairs Minister Sir Puka Temu said the weapons disposal program was still regarded as a priority, even at this stage — when peace had been maintained since the Bougainville Peace Agreement was signed in 2001.
Also, 30 out of 33 constituencies have now been declared weapons-free and referendum-ready — the only exceptions being the Tsitalato, Halia and Taunita-Teop constituencies in north Bougainville.
“The plans for weapons disposal and reconciliation being developed by former combatants can also be expected to add strength to the peace already achieved,” Sir Puka said.
Weapons disposal was recognised in the Bougainville Peace Agreement as a precursor for the referendum.
“As my predecessor, William Samb, said, the Joint Supervisory Body through which the national government and the ABG meet to consult in order to facilitate co-operation and resolve any differences – has agreed to a strategy for weapons disposal,” he said.
“The strategy is to be coordinated through a joint weapons disposal secretariat and supported by weapons disposal committees in each of the 33 constituencies.
“Weapons disposal is still a high priority, and will continue to be so during and following the referendum process and when Bougainville’s political future is determined.” Sir Puka said the following activities are ongoing:
* A schedule of weapons disposal ceremonies or activities in each of the three regions;
*Introduction to standardised forms for distribution;
*Containment, monuments and memorial parks;
*Technical and logistical support to facilitate collection and storage;
*Evaluating the constituency ‘referendum ready declaration’ reports; and
* The law enforcement approach to dealing with possession of firearms
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS
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