Bougainville voters need to present unified front, says Momis

Bougainville President John Momis … need to be united. Image: Ramumine

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

The people of Bougainville should present a unified front at the dawn of the referendum to secure a viable option of self-determination, says Autonomous Bougainville Government President Dr John Momis.

If Bougainville can secure more than 90 percent of the popular vote next year, it would have the bargaining power to negotiate with the Port Moresby national government, he added, reports The National.

“After the referendum vote, we will still have to negotiate with the national government before the referendum result is ratified by parliament,” Dr Momis said.

“Securing a majority vote on one option of the referendum question secures support from the international community and it proves to the national government that this is what our people have chosen as the new path for our future.

“Apart from presenting a unified front, it is imperative that we implement the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

“It does not matter if the government is failing to honour the peace agreement, we must continue to strive to implement it so that when it comes to the ratification of the outcome of the referendum, we can proudly say that we implemented it in its entirety.”

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Dr Momis said it was the moral and legal obligation of the Bougainville government to honour the peace agreement despite capacity constraints which had hampered the full implementation of the autonomous arrangements on Bougainville.

He urged factions who have been causing problems for the government to end their dissension.

“We must realise that we stand on the threshold of a definitive period in our history yet we continue to be diametrically opposed to the government and the rule of law,” Dr Momis added.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Only independence will appease Bougainvilleans, says Moses

“No amount of greater powers or autonomy will appease the people – especially after the loss of over 15,000 lives during the 10-year Bougainville War.” Image: PNG Post-Courier

By Patrick Makis

The people of Bougainville will only accept independence from Papua New Guinea and nothing else, says concerned Bougainvillean and independence hardliner Gabriel Moses.

And no amount of greater powers or autonomy will appease the people – especially after the loss of over 15,000 lives during the 10-year Bougainville War.

Moses was speaking in reaction to comments made by Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, this week, who reportedly said that the PNG Constitution did not permit the granting of independence to any province or region in the country.

“It is hard to compensate the 15,000 to 20,000 lives that were lost during the conflict even with K20 million or 100 pigs or even greater autonomy, free and just association or whatever.

“The only answer is to grant independence or sovereignty to the people of Bougainville after the referendum is conducted.

“The fact is that Bougainville already won independence through the blood that was shed during the crisis and referendum is just a process that will formalise the wishes of the people who I believe will overwhelmingly vote for independence from PNG.

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“The three or four questions that are being suggested to be answered during the referendum are just to confuse the people especially those who are not educated enough to understand and interpret the questions,” Moses said referring to the questions yet to be decided by the Joint Supervisory Body for the referendum due next June 15.

Unlocking resources
He said Bougainville was ready for independence because of its vast natural resources and minerals and only independence would allow the people to unlock these resources for development under their own government and country.

“There is no economic value for Bougainville to remain under Papua New Guinea as PNG is a sinking ship and has nothing to offer Bougainville even though the Panguna mine, at one time, contributed largely to the development of the country through the national budget.

“PNG has continued to fail us in terms of providing sufficient funds to operate systems like the provincial government which it gave to us to prevent secession in the 1970s and now the autonomous government.

“What guarantee do we have that by continuing to remain as an autonomous region we will address our developmental needs as currently the ABG is cash-strapped and continues to be starved off funds legally owed to it under the peace agreement,” Moses said.

He called on all Bougainvilleans to vote for independence from PNG and prove to the world that there was overwhelming support for self-determination and independence.

“The people of Bougainville or Buka are ethnically and culturally connected to Solomon Islanders but were separated from their relatives by the British and German colonisers and included under PNG in the 1800s,” Moses said.

“So the fight for self determination dates back to the 19th century and PNG should realise by now that Bougainvilleans will stop at nothing to continue to push for their independence.”

Patrick Makis is a Papua New Guinean journalist who has worked with the PNG Department of Defence.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Former BRA and BLF fighters break arrows to heal Bougainville wounds

Breaking bows and arrows … the people of Haku show their commitment to the future of Bougainville. Image: Radio New Dawn FM News

By Aloysius Laukai in Buka

The people of Haku have demonstrated their commitment to the Bougainville peace process by reconciling former fighters from the Bougainville Revolutionary Army and the Buka Liberation Front ahead of their mass reconciliation next week.

The ex-fighters and commanders broke bows and arrows in a traditional ceremony marking reconciliation before next year’s referendum on independence.

At the height of the Bougainville conflict, the people of Haku formed the Buka Liberation Front (BLF), which later changed into the Bougainville Resistance Forces after many atrocities were being committed to the ordinary citizens of Bougainville.

They then went to Nissan island to get support from the PNG Defence Force soldiers who were stationed there.

The reconciliation at Luli village was attended by both the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) and BLF commanders and their soldiers.

They broke bows and arrows in front of their chiefs to show their commitment to peace and unity for Bougainville leading up to the referendum on independence next June.

-Partners-

BLF commander Donald Hamao said that the people of Haku were committed to the future of Bougainville and wanted to end yesterday what they had started 28 years earlier when they had formed the resistance force in 1990.

No time for war
Mathew Gales, commander of the BRA, also said there was no time for war on Bougainville. He called on the people of Haku and Bougainville to look at the “big picture ahead” and create peace in their communities.

The reconciliation included flag raising ceremony speeches and activities.

Haku will do a big reconciliation ceremony next Thursday at Eltupan village, the place were fierce fighting between the two factions took place at the height of the Bougainville conflict.

The ceremony was co-sponsored by the chairman of the Bougainville Import Export Group which operates SOLMAL in Buka town, Jason Fong.

Other sponsors included the ex-combatants member for North Bougainville, Ben Malatan,  and the national member for North Bougainville, William Nakin.

Aloysius Laukai is editor of New Dawn FM News community radio.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

O’Neill defends PNG government responses over Bougainville

Papua New Guinea’s government has defended its handling of preparations for the Bougainville referendum. Video: EMTV

By Meriba Tulo in Port Moresby

With just a year to go before the people of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville go to the polls to determine their political future, the Papua New Guinean government has defended its handling of preparations for this exercise.

During question time in Parliament yesterday, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said the government, under his leadership, had done more for the Autonomous Region during his term than at any other time.

He said the next Joint Supervisory Body meeting would be of the utmost importance for the Bougainville referendum in June next year.

During question time, Member for South Bougainville Timothy Masiu asked a series of questions of the Prime Minister regarding the national government’s efforts in support of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville’s preparations for the referendum.

Of particular concern, according to Masiu, the recent appointment of a Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Bougainville Affairs, which he claimed would cause challenges for the region on conducting the referendum.

-Partners-

The Prime Minister emphasised the steps taken by the parties – the national government, and the ABG – to have the Chairman of the Referendum Commission in place, as well as agreeing on the all-important referendum questions.

While there has been some sentiments regarding possible independence for Bougainville, the Prime Minister was quick to point out that it would be difficult to let go of the Autonomous Region, especially at a time when there was need for unity in Papua New Guinea.

The national government and Autonomous Bougainville government are due to meet in June for the Joint Supervisory Body meeting.

This meeting, scheduled to take place in Arawa, is expected to iron out several issues relating to the referendum, including the all-important question, or questions, which will be put to the people of Bougainville.

Meriba Tulo is an EMTV reporter. This story was first published by EMTV News and is republished here with permission.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

O’Neill ‘undermining’ Bougainville peace deal, vote plan, says Miriori

The trailer for New Zealand documentary maker Will Watson’s forthcoming documentary about the Bougainville peace process, Soldiers Without Guns. Video: Boosted

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

A Bougainvillean leader has accused Papua New Guinean Prime Minister Peter O’Neill of “undermining” the island’s 17-year-old peace agreement and the independence vote due next year.

Martin Miriori also condemned O’Nell for lacking sensitivity over Bougainville that struck a New Zealand-brokered peace agreement which ended a 10-year civil war and included a referendum vote on independence.

Miriori, a Panguna landowner and pro-independence leader, was reacting to a statement by O’Neill at the Business Forum in Brisbane last week and repeated in PNG’s The National newspaper that the vote was not about independence, but what was best for the people of Bougainville.

https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/356876/png-pm-says-bougainville-vote-not-about-independence

“When the prime minister comes out openly making such a statement in public, my view is that he is already undermining the good intentions and the spirit of the Bougainville Peace Agreement which, among other issues, clearly states that the issue of independence for Bougainville will be also among the options for a referendum vote to be taken by the people [in] June next year,” he said today in a statement.

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“This is also the common understanding of the international community as well [as] including the United Nations,” Miriori said.

“For the prime minister to water down the main focus on the independence issue at this time is simply a big slap on the face [of] the people of Bougainville.”

Miriori said Bougainvilleans would not have “fully committed themselves” to the joint partnership with Papua New Guinea in the peace process if they knew that they were “going to be tricked”.

“We must not lose the trust and confidence of the people at all cost, and in doing so try to confuse them by making such statements, which could easily undermine all our good work and tireless efforts being invested in this very delicate and sensitive process since we first fully committed ourselves at Burnham [New Zealand] in July 1997 towards achieving lasting peace by peaceful means,” Miriori said.

RNZ Pacific reports that O’Neill told the Business Forum in Brisbane that when the outcome of the referendum was tabled in the national Parliament, he was sure every MP would vote in the interests of a unified and harmonious country.

Guitars instead of guns
Meanwhile, the film maker of a forthcoming documentary about the Bougainville peace process, Soldiers Without Guns, has released a trailer.

In a social media message message to supporters last week, Will Watson said: “We were celebrating the 20th anniversary of lasting peace for Bougainville yesterday.

“Yes, the 30 April 1998 was the signing of the peace accord.

“The other big news is that I completed the trailer for the upcoming movie, Soldiers Without Guns. It took lots of work but I think it describes the Pacific’s worst civil war and peacekeeping with guitars instead of guns.

“Still lots of work to do to complete the film. I hope you like the trailer.

“I have been inspired to tell this story for the last 12 years. I am now very close to completing the feature length film.”

Watson won the 2017 Cannes Film Festival peace feature for his documentary Haka and Guitars.

He has appealed for support in a funding campaign to complete the Bougainville project.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Philippine mining company wins Bougainville search licence

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Philippine mining company wins Bougainville search licence

By Franklin Kolma

The Autonomous Bougainville Government has granted its second mining exploration licence to a Philippine company in a low-key event at Tunania, the seaside home of Bougainville crisis commander of rebel forces Sam Kauona.

The event was set against the sombre double backdrop of the bloody crisis which had begun as a protest against mining giant Bougainville Copper in 1989 and a desperate race against time to get some serious investment on the ground before the referendum next June to decide the question of independence for the Autonomous Region.

Bougainville Exploration Licence No. 5 covering a 183 sq km area was launched by Bougainville President Dr John Momis with a plea to stand “united” and “strong”.

The echoes of the crisis were palpable here and brought a sombre note to an occasion that speaker, after speaker suggested, was “the turning point”, “a special milestone”, “a breakthrough”, and a fresh start”.

The silence and the people’s reactions spoke more forcefully than the speeches.

The people gathered in small silent groups under the shade of trees and coconut palms, more observers than participants, while the representatives of Philippine company, SR Metals Inc. battled it out in the clearing under the blazing sun, appearing to all like a graduating class of foreigners in some Bougainville initiation ceremony.

The chiefs of nine affected clans were first called out and they gave their blessing and permission for the forests to be disturbed in the interest of all during the exploration period.

Leap of faith
Then each speaker coaxed the people to leave their fears behind and take a leap of faith.

Sam Kauona said: “I fought for this 28 years ago. After going through many years of sacrifice and pain, we deserve to see the benefit of what we fought for. I as your general assure you. Do not be afraid. Let us move forward.”

Bougainville President Dr John Momis said: “Bougainville now stands at the threshold of a new social, economic, political, and moral order.

“Independence is imminent, just round the corner. But independence will not just happen.

“We dream dreams and we want to be free. We want to be free agents of development. We want to break away from the syndrome of dependency and economic exploitation and manipulation by those who have money because we treasure our people and their resources.

“But we need resources ourselves to do this. That is why Mr Gutierrez [manager of SR Metals], we are so grateful that you could have listened to my plea to have come to Bougainville.”

Bougainville South MP and Deputy Opposition Leader Timothy Masiu said: “This is a breakthrough. This is the day that our former leaders and our people have dreamt of and fought for. The wheels of change are starting now.”

Call for trust
“Masiu called on the people to trust in the leadership of the ABG and be responsible partners in all undertakings if there was to be real meaningful development.

“These people (mining company) have the expertise. They have the experience. They have the money. They will teach us how to do mining but only if we respect them and look after them.”

The SR Metals Inc Managing Director Eric Gutierrez said his people were ready but would mobilise only if the company was invited by the government and the people.

Mrs Kauona, representing women, said: “We mothers bore the burden of the mining industry here in Bougainville. 20,000 people have died because of this industry, because of Panguna mine.

“Our children have bathed this island with their blood. Today we celebrate because this new deal has been forged out of the expensive and fresh blood of our children.

“Papua New Guinea was sustained by Bougainville. We are doing the same thing. History has come around again. We are going to sustain the independence and livelihood of Bougainville.”

Frank Kolma is a senior journalist with the PNG Post-Courier.

Bougainville autonomy ‘positive’ but improvements needed, says poll report

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Bougainville autonomy ‘positive’ but improvements needed, says poll report

PNG’s NRI researchers present Bougainville referendum reports. Video: EMTV News

By Meriba Tulo in Port Moresby

The autonomous arrangements for Bougainville have been described as positive.

However, there is also room for improvement – among these, the need for the effective use of knowledge, capacity and time.

These were points highlighted this week during a presentation of two draft research reports into Bougainville’s referendum for next year.

The research has been conducted by Papua New Guinea’s National Research Institute (NRI) through its Bougainville Referendum Research Project.

According to PNGNRI Director Dr Osborne Sanida, these reports highlight some issues that the institute believes need to be considered by stakeholders from PNG as well as from the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

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The report on fiscal autonomy was spearheaded by Professor Satish Chand.

Professor Chand said an immediate need for Bougainville was to increase the capacity to fund its own budget – regardless of the level of autonomy it has now, or may have following the referendum.

Broader tax options
He said developmental taxation should be an option to consider in an effort to broaden the tax base for Bougainville.

Professor Chand said that given mining was still a controversial issue on the island – and that mining revenue might take a decade – the Autonomous Region should consider fisheries or agriculture as an alternative in increasing internal revenue.

Also released was a Draft Report on Political Autonomy presented by Martina Trettel.

This report considers the various forms of autonomy that are present in other jurisdictions, and compares these to the Bougainville experience.

According to Trettel, there is an imminent need for both the national government and the ABG to work an arrangement which may be beneficial for the island region in the immediate future, as well as post-referendum.

The report has highlighted the need for both governments to share the responsibilities of autonomy.

The research team has been presenting their findings to the Autonomous Bougainville Government this week.

Meriba Tulo is a senior reporter and presenter with EMTV and currently anchors Resource PNG and the daily National News. Asia Pacific Report republishes EMTV news reports with permission.

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Momis calls for unity as Bougainville future status referendum nears

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Momis calls for unity as Bougainville future status referendum nears

EMTV News report on the call for unity.

By Aloysius Laukai in Buka

The Autonomous Bougainville Government president, Chief Dr John Momis, has called on the people of the region to unite in spite of their differences with the future status of Bougainville at stake in next year’s referendum.

In his New Year message to the people of Bougainville, President Momis said Bougainville had progressed despite the national government’s failure to fulfill the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

He said that the peace agreement was a joint creation of the Papua New Guinea government and the ABG and the two governments must work together to implement it.

President Momis said despite this Bougainville had continued to move forward with policies and laws that would enable the ABG to operate in the future.

With the Bougainville mining law and the approval of exploration licences for three local joint venture companies, the government had started getting some money to support the autonomous government.

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Momis praised PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and his cabinet members and the ABG delegation for agreeing to speed up development issues in 2018.

He said that the national government had agreed to complete the Buka ring road sealing, Kokopau to Arawa road upgrading and sealing, the Arawa to Buin road sealing in 2018.

President Momis also announced that the national government would finally fund the Siara to Koripovi road that has been neglected for a long time.

He said the West Coast of Bougainville was one economical road that the government had not looked into in a long time.

Headquarters choice
In response to a recent parliamentary question, Chief Momis said a committee would be set up in the New Year to look into recommending a location to establish the Bougainville  headquarters for.

He said there was a need for the government to approve a location quickly as building everywhere could be a very expensive exercise.

President Momis also said he would like development to be distributed in all districts so that the presence of government services can be felt by the people of Bougainville.

If the headquarter was in one location, then other major economic activities could be done in other areas.

Aloysius Laukai is editor of Bougainville New Dawn FM’s radio.

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