Bougainville says PNG ‘dragging chain’ over independence issue

PNG Prime Minister James Marape (left) and Bougainville President Ishmael Toroama
PNG Prime Minister James Marape (left) and Bougainville President Ishmael Toroama . . . "we've established a pathway that we should work towards." Image: RNZ Pacific

RNZ Pacific

The Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) wants to delay the next meeting of the Joint Supervisory Body with the Papua New Guinea government, claiming Port Moresby is “dragging the chain” on drawing up critical constitutional regulations..

The key focus of the ABG is on achieving independence by 2027 by the latest.

This latest dispute comes despite both governments committing last April to the Era Kone Covenant which lays out how the independence referendum results would be tabled in the national Parliament, and the manner in which that institution may ratify the results.

At that time Bougainville President Ishmael Toroama commended the national government for its unwavering support for the Bougainville Peace Process.

He said the Era Kone Covenant laid out a timeline and a roadmap for the ratification of the referendum results in the national Parliament.

PNG Prime Minister James Marape at the time reaffirmed his commitment to the outcomes, saying his government would continue to work within the spirit of the peace agreement.

“We’ve established a pathway that we should work towards and we on the national government side, I just want to assure Bougainville that it doesn’t matter who sits in this chair in 3 months’ time, the work for Bougainville has been set and the work we have set will continue on,” Marape said.

Failed to engage
But a national government’s technical team has since failed to engage with its Bougainville counterparts to develop a jointly agreed draft of the regulations.

ABG Minister Ezekiel Masatt said this week this lack of commitment from the national government has frustrated the ABG leadership and prompted its call for a deferral of the Joint Supervisory Body meeting.

The PNG government, and its technical team, have called for nationwide consultations on the Bougainville issue, but Masatt said the ABG’s position was that ratification of the outcome of the consultation on independence was for the national Parliament and not all the citizens of PNG.

He said there was no legal basis for such a proposed nationwide consultation.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email