By Gorethy Kenneth in Port Moresby
Bougainville President Ishmael Toroama says Bougainville’s future as an independent sovereign nation is inevitable and nothing can change the resolve of the government and people from achieving sovereignty.
And he warned in the Autonomous Bougainville Parliament that no foreign government or foreign leader would dictate to Bougainville the outcome of the Bougainville peace process.
He said it was an outcome that would be negotiated with the government of PNG through the legal framework that guided this process.
In his address to the ABG Parliament, An irate Toroama responded to the Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles whose remarks on Bougainville’s political future were addressing the members of the House of Representatives.
“From the outset, let me say it once more within this Honourable House that Bougainville’s future as an independent sovereign nation is inevitable,” the president said.
“There is nothing that can change the resolve of our government and our people from achieving sovereignty as an independent nation.
“I would like to comment on the statement by the Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles whose remarks on Bougainville’s political future has finally made Australia’s position very clear.
Australia ‘bargained neutrality’
“Australia has bargained their neutrality in the Bougainville peace process for the sake of geopolitical manoeuvering and maintaining control of the Pacific region from their perceived threat of Chinese influence in the region.
“Deputy Prime Minister Marles claims Australia is being neutral in the Bougainville peace process.
“However, his remarks pledging Australia’s support to the government of Papua New Guinea just as we are preparing for the ratification contradicts his statement.
“The pledge can be viewed as a calculated move to intimidate Bougainville and pre-empt the outcome of the ratification by the National Parliament of Papua New Guinea.
“As a witness and signatory to the Bougainville Peace Agreement, the Australian Government should maintain its neutrality instead of pre-empting the outcome of our political future.”
In principle, this pre-emptive act in itself was a direct intervention by the Australian government on the internal affairs of Papua New Guinea.
“It is an action that will directly influence the National Government.”
This had given rise to questions on Australia’s continued involvement in the peace process and their presence on Bougainville.
“As President of Bougainville, I am not in a position to comment nor speculate on the foreign policy of foreign governments who have diplomatic relations with Papua New Guinea.
“Though we do not have foreign affairs powers, countries dealing with Bougainville must understand that our political arrangements are not the same as the other provincial governments of Papua New Guinea.”
Gorethy Kenneth is a PNG Post-Courier journalist. Republished with permission.