Stop treating Bougainville lightly, Sir Puka warns Marape

Sir Puka Temu
Sir Puka Temu . . . "the people and leaders of Bougainville are running out of time." Image: PNG Post-Courier

PNG Post-Courier

Opposition spokesperson for Bougainville affairs Sir Puka Temu has warned the Papua New Guinea government not to take the Bougainville ratification process lightly and has called for an urgent leadership meeting.

He urged Prime Minister James Marape and his Minister for Bougainville Affairs, Manasseh Makibato, convene an urgent meeting between the two governments.

Sir Puka said that the government’s inability to ratify the referendum results last year went against the understanding set out in the Era Kone Covenant and the Wabag Roadmap by both the Autonomous Bougainville government (ABG) and the government of PNG.

“Prime Minister James Marape and the Minister for Bougainville Affairs need to come out clearly on when they will ratify the referendum results in Parliament and give their assurance that they will not fail on their part of the agreement,” Sir Puka said.

“The ratification is the responsibility of the national government and not the ABG’s.

“The people of Bougainville did their part by peacefully conducting the referendum and engaging in meaningful dialogue with the national government on when to ratify the results.

“The Marape/PANGU-led government have already failed their end of the bargain to ratify the results in 2023. And they are continuing to fail the people of Bougainville by delaying their decision on when the results will be ratified.

PM ‘not serious’
“It is evident the Prime Minister and his government are not serious about Bougainville, as there was no mention of it in the first sitting of Parliament this year had it not been for a question without notice from the Member for North Bougainville Francesca

“If the government were serious about ratifying the results, they would have made the ratification a priority of theirs on the first sitting of Parliament.

“Yet the government has opted to adjourn Parliament to May 28 nearly halfway through the year, and even then, the ratification of the results are not guaranteed to be a business of the Parliament.

“With the ABG presidential elections set for next year, the people and leaders of
Bougainville are running out of time.”

Sir Puka said Marape had had more than five years to ratify the referendum results, yet there had been many promises and little action.

“James Marape is in fact the post-referendum prime minister – it is his leadership that will coincide with the future of Bougainville, and he must not take that status lightly,” Sir Puka said.

Now that Marape had exhausted his international trips over the last two
years, he should pay serious attention to the pressing issue domestically.

‘Delaying and distracting’
The leaders and people of Bougainville would soon catch on to Marape-led government’s approach of “delaying and distracting”.

“ABG President Ishmael Toroama and his leaders have been very diplomatic, very
patient, and understanding throughout this ongoing process, however, Mr Marape must not think that this considerate treatment will last forever.

“I also appeal to the four Bougainvillean MPs in government to critically assess if Mr Marape is doing all he can in his powers to fulfill the results of the referendum.

“Three of you are in PANGU Pati yet the party leader and your fellow colleague PANGU MP and Minister for Bougainville Affairs are causing rifts and not results.

“The people of Bougainville have decided, and regardless of the ratification process that continues to be delayed, those results will still be there in history. The ball is in the government’s side of the court to guide this process or stand by and watch if they take too long.”

Sir Puka also said he would ask to meet President Toroama to formally discuss the opposition’s alternative policies and position regarding Bougainville as the shadow minister.

Republished with permission.

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