By Meriba Tulo – EMTV News, Arawa
With the referendum on the political future of Bougainville approaching, efforts to implement a key pillar of the Bougainville Peace Agreement are being put in place. A meeting of the Joint Weapons Disposal Secretariat (JWDS) was held in Arawa with representatives from the National Government, the (ABG) Autonomous Bougainville Government and with support from the United Nations, discussing the progress in achieving this requirement of the BPA.
A delegation from the National Government joined their counterparts from the Autonomous Bougainville Government for a one-day meeting in Arawa.
The JWDS co-chaired by Dennis Kuiai from the ABG Department of Peace Agreement Implementation, and Chris Asa from the Department of Prime Minister & NEC.
With the target date of the referendum on Bougainville’s political future some 120 days away, the outcome from this meeting will be put forward to the Joint Technical Team for consideration, and subsequent endorsement by the Joint Supervisory Body Meeting.
The meeting discussed the specifics of declaring constituencies “referendum ready” through checklists, and proper verification through a Four Phase Weapons Disposal Plan.
The meeting of the JWDS was given additional prominence with the attendance of Moses Pipiro of the Mekamui Faction. His attendance and willingness to be a part of the weapons disposal process is being seen as a step in the right direction in bringing about lasting peace on Bougainville.
Mr Pipiro presented a Weapons Disposal Plan that is to be undertaken by the Mekamui Government in the lead up to the referendum exercise on Bougainville.
This plan also involving requests for assistance to ensure that weapons they’ve collected are documented, and in some cases preserved as monuments for future generations of Bougainvilleans.
Representatives of development partners were present at the meeting of the Joint Weapons Disposal Secretariat, also indicative of the support from outside of Bougainville for the upcoming referendum process.