The 2015 Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) General Elections were organised and implemented by the Office of the Bougainville Electoral Commissioner (OBEC). In previous ABG General Elections (2005 and 2010), the Papua New Guinea Electoral Commission (PNGEC) had lead responsibility. The 2015 ABG General Elections were therefore an historical achievement for the people of Bougainville with the OBEC taking the leading role in conducting the elections.
FUNCTIONS OF THE OBEC:
The position of Bougainville Electoral Commissioner is established under the Constitution of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. The OBEC is the office that has been established to support this function. Its primary role is to implement the Bougainville Elections Act 2007, including planning and conducting elections in Bougainville and to ensure transparency prevails in all elections held in Bougainville.
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE OFFICE:
The Bougainville Executive Council (BEC) made the decision to establish an electoral commission for the Autonomous Region of Bougainville in 2010. This decision was unable to be fully implemented and in 2014 the BEC reached a further decision to establish the OBEC.
Following the BEC’s 2014 directive, the Acting-Bougainville Electoral Commissioner, Mr. George Manu was appointed. One of the first tasks undertaken by the Acting-Electoral Commissioner was to establish an organisational structure for the OBEC. Funding for positions within the OBEC was allocated by the ABG in its 2015 Budget. The OBEC began to increase its staff footprint from around January 2015.
While OBEC took the lead role in the 2015 ABG General Election, the PNGEC provided assistance in line with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) reached between the fomer PNG Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Andrew Trawen and the Bougainville Electoral Commissioner, Mr. George Manu. This MOU called for PNGEC to provide advisory support in the conduct of general and by-elections in Bougainville.
INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE TO SUPPORT THE 2015 ELECTION:
- The Bougainville Electoral Commissioner invited advisory and financial support through its international partners, including New Zealand, Australia and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
- UNDP has assisted OBEC to develop a media accreditation system, a dispute resolution system, and is facilitating and supporting electoral observation.
- The Government of New Zealand has provided advisory personnel and has assisted with the printing of special voting services documentation
- The Government of Australia has also provided advisory support personnel and has funded the printing of ballot papers