Entity to monitor B’ville referendum

A NEUTRAL entity called the Bougainville Referendum Commission has been established to oversee the referendum of independence for the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

The commission will ensure that the AROB is ready to conduct its referendum in 2019.
It takes over from the Electoral Commission and the Bougainville Electoral Commission.

Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato and Bougainville Electoral Commissioner George Mano yesterday signed the agreement in Port Moresby to transfer the function to the new commission.

Chief Secretary Isaac Lupari said the leaders of the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the national government would make sure that weapons disposal and good governance were achieved before there was a referendum. “The challenge is for the leaders of the Government and ABG to go into the communities to take ownership of many of the issues confronting us and go forward to achieve the referendum in 2019,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bougainville Electoral Commissioner George Mano was concerned about handing over the powers to the new commission.

“The two governments have to start appointing people to the board of the commission as soon as possible,” he said.
“As far as I know, there is no funding for the office. I hope funds from the 2017 Budget can be allocated to the office.

“This means that there is a risk that the commission will not become operational until 2018.
“This might jeopardise the target date for the referendum in 2019.”





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