The people of Bougainville have begun the process of voting for their desired future political status.
Autonomous Bougainville Government President, Chief John Momis, this morning was the first to cast his vote in the Bougainville Referendum in a ceremony of culture and celebration.
Over the next two weeks, a total of two hundred and six thousand eligible voters both in Bougainville, and outside of Bougainville, will vote for either greater autonomy, or independence.
An air of confidence filled Buka town this morning, as Autonomous Bougainville Government President, Chief John Momis, and fellow leaders of the ABG were taken by the people to vote – signalling the beginning of the voting period in the Bougainville Referendum.
A career politician with over 50 years in active national politics, Chief John Momis made the slow walk to Bel Isi Park, flanked by National Bougainville Affairs Minister, Sir Puka Temu, and Senior ABG Ministers.
It is a historical occasion, for the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, with its people now given the opportunity at the ballot to have a say on their desired future political status, in a process facilitated by the Bougainville Referendum Comission.
Chief Momis, given the honour of being the very first to cast his vote in this referendum – a moment which he said was a long time coming – in an exercise guaranteed through the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
National Bougainville Affairs Minister, Sir Puka Temu, was also present to witness the start of polling on Bougainville. Although eligible to vote in this referendum through marriage, the Minister in recent days announced he would forgo this opportunity – to ensure his neutrality in the post-referendum negotiation process.
Sir Puka also reaffirming the National Government’s commitment to the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
By Meriba Tulo – EMTV News, Buka