by Fabian Hakalits – EM TV, Buka
The inauguration of the third Bougainville House of Representatives marks a significant step forward in the implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, that is also vital to peace building on the island of Bougainville.
Acting Prime Minister, Grand Chief Leo Dion, says this marked the opening of the window of opportunity, for holding the guaranteed referendum on Bougainville.
The Acting Prime Minister retold the story of Bougainville being accorded the highest form of autonomy under the PNG Constitution. This is because in PNG’s history, the at once country danced to the tune decided by Bougainville.
“Legally, Bougainville has been regarded as a ‘one off case’. How the rest of Papua New Guinea arranges itself in the near future will certainly look towards Bougainville’s experiences as a reference point. The ideal scenario whether one calls it autonomy, greater powers sharing, or something else, is for the meaningful participation of the greatest number of people,” he said
Grand Chief Leo Dion highlighted that the overriding objective of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, the people of Bougainville and Papua New Guinea including the wider international communities, is to continue support and maintain peace in the lead up towards referendum.
“The Bougainville Peace Agreement Must Be Fulfilled in earnest the three pillars of autonomy, referendum and weapons disposal,” Grand Chief Leo Dion added.
The Acting Prime Minister led the high-powered delegation into the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
Accompanying the delegation were some of the country’s founding fathers, Grand Chief, Sir Michael Somare, Sir Rabbie Namaliu and Sir John Kaputin.
The delegation witnessed the ‘Swearing In’ of the 40 newly elected members of the Bougainville House of Representatives who took their oath, before Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia.
Also witnessing the ceremony was Acting Prime Minister with representatives from the National Government, Foreign Mission and the people of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
The Acting Prime Minister also inspected the parade by the Bougainville Police Service during the 10th Anniversary Celebrations.
PNG’s first Prime Minister, who is also the Governor for East Sepik Province, Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare, was proud to celebrate with Bougainvilleans their achievement, as he was involved with Bougainville issues.
Sir Michael congratulated the Autonomous Bougainville Government for setting the benchmark with government processes, like the successful conduct of the general election.
“We must work for the future of Bougainville,” Sir Michael told the gathering.
With the referendum sign post, President, Chief Dr John Momis is adamant both governments, will work together under the Bougainville Peace Agreement, to prepare for the referendum.
The financial resource available to us will of course have a huge impact on what the third ABG House can achieve.
Momis pointed out the need for more coordinated planning of use of fiscal resources of the ABG, National Government, donors and Bougainville MP’s.
The inauguration of the third ABG House marks a significant step forward in the implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, to achieve results.
Meanwhile, Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare, was recognised for this contribution to Bougainville and in return was presented with four pigs and food by the Nissan Islands as a sign of ‘thankyou’.