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February 27, 2020
Bougainville Featured News

National Bougainville Affairs Minister: Voter turn out is key

Bougainvilleans who have registered to vote in the upcoming Referendum have been encouraged to actually turn up and vote when polling begins. During a recent Joint Referendum roadshow, National Bougainville Affairs Minister, Sir Puka Temu, made this call saying that a high turnout would help in the negotiation process in ratifying the vote results.

With close to 200,000 eligible voters registered to vote in the upcoming Referendum, Bougainville Affairs Minister, Sir Puka Temu, has called for all those who have registered to actually turn up to vote once polling begins on November 23rd.

Addressing people in Bana District, he emphasised the importance of a high voter-turnout in determining the outcome to be ratified by parliament.

“I want to see at least 180, 000 of those who have enrolled to be voting. If I see only 100, 000, bai me weak olgeta (it will make negotiating the outcome difficult).”

According to Sir Puka, from his interactions with people during this roadshow, there is a sense of preparedness on the part of Bougainvilleans – which is positive in this process.

“…the people are ready. They know exactly what they are going to vote for, and hopefully after this awareness and clarifications provide, they now understand the process.

I’m also glad that a UN Representative was present, and also impressed on the people that referendums around the world don’t take overnight (to resolve). Some countries take 5-7 years, and people welcomed that information and knowledge.

This is the type of awareness that we wanted to convey to do.
People need to be properly informed, as Information is Power – the power to decide the political future of Bougainville.” the Bougainville Affairs Minister stated.

Given the importance of the referendum in fulfilling the BPA, Sir Puka has again reiterated the importance of ensuring that the period from when the results of the vote are delivered to the Governor General, the negotiations of the vote outcome, and final ratification by Parliament, is managed well.

“…the greatest challenge is that the process of negotiating the final outcome before Parliament ratifies this outcome – that period must be managed well. During this period, the people (of Bougainville) must be occupied.

This is the period where we are appealing to everybody, both in the Bougainville leadership, and National Government leadership to not allow people not to revert back to conflict.

As we have been advised by our UN friends, these issues do not get resolved overnight. Conflict situations don’t get resolved overnight. This is what we will have to manage post-referendum.”

Sir Puka was part of an awareness roadshow, which also included the Autonomous Bougainville Government, and United Nations.

By Meriba Tulo – EMTV News, Port Moresby

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