By Meriba Tulo – EMTV News, Port Moresby
The Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) has resolved to postpone the target date of the referendum on Bougainville to October this year. Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, and Autonomous Bougainville Government President, Chief John Momis, made this known following a meeting of both Governments in Port Moresby, today, Friday, March 1. Initially, the target date had been set for June 15, 2019.
Representatives of both the National Government and Autonomous Bougainville Government concluded the Joint Supervisory Body meeting today in Port Moresby. Among the agendas discussed, preparations towards the referendum exercise on Bougainville – an election to determine the political future of this Island Region.
The initial referendum target date of June 15, 2019, had been agreed to towards the end of 2017 – however, several issues had continued to hamper preparations by relevant authorities and agencies, including the recently established Bougainville Referendum Commission (BRC).
At this JSB meeting, the BRC gave an update on preparations so far, with a recommendation to postpone the target date by three months to allow preparations to be thoroughly completed. This recommendation was agreed to by both Governments.
In acknowledging the resolution agreed to move the referendum target date, ABG President, Chief John Momis, highlighted the need for the referendum process to be respected and conducted within the spirit of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
The JSB also agreed to establish a Post-Referendum Taskforce, to deal with the outcomes of the October vote.
The Prime Minister also reaffirmed funding support for the Referendum Exercise, with confirmation that by next week, a further K10 million will be released to assist in the work of the Bougainville Referendum Commission – the second installment of a budgeted K30 million for the BRC in the 2019 National Budget.