Referendum dilemma



There is no time frame fixed for the negotiations of the outcome of the referendum and ratifications by parliament after voting on the referendum next month and return of writs on December 20.

Minister responsible for Bougainville Affairs Sir Puka Temu said the outcome of the referendum will be negotiated by the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the National Government then parliament will ratify but there is no set date for these two events.

The people of Bougainville on Nov 23 will go into polling for two weeks to vote on the options of greater autonomy or separate independence as per the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

The government of PNG will decide whether to give separate independence or greater autonomy after the parliament ratifications but the question is when will these events take place for the people of Bougainville to know the final result.

Sir Puka explained the process that would be involved to arrive at the conclusion of the referendum and the final outcome of the negotiation that was still subjected to the government of PNG.

Sir Puka made the explanation in parliament on Thursday following series of concerns raised by Deputy Opposition Leader Dr Allan Marat including the dates for the two governments’ negotiations and the date for the final ratification by parliament.

Sir Puka said the outcome of the negotiations will be ratified and not the outcome of the vote taken by the people of Bougainville.

The concern Dr Marat raised included how the parliament was preparing for the ratification and whether the results of the referendum would be accepted if majority of the people vote for separate independence.

Dr Marat asked if parliament was going to pass the law, the Bougainville Act and further asked what was the likely time frame parliament would ratify and when would the two governments would have consultations.

While responding to Dr Marat’s series of questions, Sir Puka said the government of PNG has engaged United Nations to help the conduct of the ratifications on the floor of parliament.

He said this may not happen straight after the return of writs and negotiations by the two governments. The negotiations and ratifications may take some time depending on the situation of the two governments.

Sir Puka said the referendum is non-binding which means the government will make the decision on whether to give greater autonomy or give independence.

He said there will be a conference on how the government will conduct negotiations.

Sir Puka said the all counting of votes for will take place in Buka.

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