President of the Autonomous Bougainville Government Chief Dr John Momis has received full cabinet endorsement for the government’s Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) agenda, laying the foundation for a successful meeting with Prime Minister this Friday in Buin, South Bougainville.
In briefing the Bougainville Executive Council (BEC) yesterday, President Momis said the ABG had a clear plan for the JSB talks to resolve critical issues between the two governments. Among these include the official JSB endorsement of the six week extension of the referendum date to November 23, plus progressive updates on referendum preparation activities including weapons disposal, national and international reconciliations and the post referendum period.
“With the arrangements for the referendum in place, and the Bougainville Referendum Commission working hard to prepare for the referendum, the key thing left to the two governments is to consult on how the situation after the referendum will be handled,” Momis said.
President Momis said Bougainvilleans are keen to see a clear direction set for the period after the referendum, on-going support for weapons disposal across the region and payment of monies owed to Bougainville to support government services under the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
The key issue being the Restoration and Development Grant, which is one of the two grants payable annually to the ABG by the National Government, but has been one that the National Government has not provided in full since the establishment of the ABG in 2005, and has been an ongoing agenda in previous JSB meetings.
“Without the proper payment of this grant, the ABG can do very little to improve services and provide infrastructure in Bougainville. The problems with this grant have contributed to a growing sense of frustration amongst Bougainvilleans with the autonomy arrangements,” Momis said.
In regards to the upcoming JSB meeting, President Momis informed the BEC that the two governments now have the opportunity to work together to create something new for Bougainville.
"Both governments must be ready to continue their cooperation, and work to avoid any renewal of conflict. The two governments need to work together. They have the privilege of together attempting to develop something new that will contribute to continued peace,” Momis said.
President Momis commended the work of the technical team led by the ABG Chief Secretary, in preparing the Bougainville side. He also called on the people of Bougainville to provide the Prime Minister and his delegation, a true Bougainville welcome.
“Bougainville must rise above our grievances and show that we are truly a proud people, who honor and respect their democratically elected leaders.”
The Joint Supervisory Body is the peak forum for resolving issues under the Bougainville Peace Agreement. It is co-chaired by the PNG Prime Minister and President of Bougainville. The JSB will be held in Buin, Autonomous Region of Bougainville, on Friday 13 September.
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