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BHOR to decide on Emergency Act amendment

The Bougainville House of Representatives will meet tomorrow to decide to make amendments to the Bougainville Emergency Act 2006, that will cater for the extension of the State of Emergency and the issue of writs when Parliament resumes tomorrow.

The amendment to Bougainville's own emergency legislation is being drafted and this amendment only applies when Bougainville is in a State of Emergency.

Attorney General and Minister for Public Service Hon Ezekiel Massat, who is coordinating the matter on behalf of the House, revealed this adding that this amendment only applies when Bougainville is in an SoE. 

"If we do not pass the amendment and we go past the 8th of June, our political life ends including the Speaker and he will not be able to issue the writs. This amendment will only apply when we have an SoE in Bougainville," Mr Massat said. He further apologized for not having the amendment ready for the House as the Secretariat was working on the amendment and he informed the House that it should be ready by Tuesday 21 April, 2020.

The decision to make the amendment was made following the presentations by the SoE Controller of Bougainville, Health Secretary, ABG Electoral Commissioner, Deputy Controller with support from the United Nations at an informal meeting during the suspension of the Parliament sitting last week.

SoE Controller Francis Tokura in his presentation stressed that the corona virus had spread across the globe affecting 213 countries, including PNG with five new cases confirmed and Bougainville needed to take drastic actions to prevent the disease from reaching its shores.

He acknowledged Parliamentarians for extending the SoE for further two months and reiterated that the best way to prevent the spread of the disease was to practice social distancing and avoid large gatherings.

Health Secretary Clement Totavun shared similar sentiments adding that the main focus of the Covid-19 response team in Bougainville was to prevent the spread of the disease in the region and health officials were working with the National Department of Health, the World Health Organization and local partners to develop key guidelines including plans to conduct safe elections during an outbreak.

A draft of the guideline is completed and being reviewed after which will be presented to the government and Bougainville Electoral Commission.

Bougainville Electoral Commissioner George Manu confirmed that he is working with the Covid-19 response team to ensure that a guide is completed and presented to the parliament to consider should the elections be conducted during the SoE. Commissioner Manu also added that he also needs time to prepare materials and logistics.

Meanwhile, Speaker of Parliament Hon Simon Pentanu acknowledged the presentation saying that it provided a clear guide on how the parliament will address the issue on the ABG Elections for 2020.

Parliament will resume tomorrow Tuesday 20 April 2020. 

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