Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape has called on the media to be sensitive while reporting on the matter of Bouganville’s efforts for self-determination.
The Prime Minister said sensitivity in disseminating information to the public was paramount as ‘Bougainville Independence’ not only meant changes to Bouganville’s political autonomy but also huge changes that will affect the Constitution of Papua New Guinea with major implications on its people into the future.
PM Marape made this call after Post-Courier printed a misleading headline stating that the joint-government consultation had agreed to Independence for Bougainville in 2027 while meeting this week in Wabag, Enga Province.
“The 2027 date is the proposed date by the Autonomous Bougainville Government. The PNG Government has accepted the date as a tentative one, but at no point did we agree to Independence,” said the Prime Minister.
“If the Post-Courier reporter had gone through the joint statement, read by chairman of the forum, UN representative Dirk Wagener in front of everyone and signed soon after by the President and I, in no part is Independence mentioned.”
PM Marape clarified further the process of getting the results of the 2019 referendum ‘ratified’ by Parliament, which involved a long, complex body of work that included at its core a national consultation and major amendments to the Constitution depending on the outcome of that consultation.
“I think it is important to highlight that ABG has successfully recognised this week that there exists no provision at all within the Constitution of PNG that allows for one part of the country to break away and form it’s own country, including Bougainville.
“The word ‘Independence’ was used as a referendum choice. It does not mean the PNG Government has automatically agreed to that move.
“A political settlement can only happen for Bougainville when all parliamentary processes have been complied with, including a wide national consultation and Constitutional amendments reflecting the result of that consultation.”
The Prime Minister, again while stressing his stand made throughout the forum, said while it was important to pay heed to the plight of Bougainville, it was equally important to also pay attention to the implications secession would mean to the rest of the country.
“This is no small matter; it involves the sovereignty of Papua New Guinea. It involves the change to our borders. It involves the risk this places on our people because of the precedent this is setting.
“And so because of these profound implications, Papua New Guinea must be consulted thoroughly.
“When PNG was formed in 1975, it was based on a wide national consultation. Our Constitution was drafted based on that consultation, including the securing of our borders. That same process will be deployed in the matter of Bougainville.”
The Prime Minister asked that the media understand both perspectives and report factually and fairly for the proper information of the public in this very important matter.
SOURCE: PNG GOVT/PACNEWS